California Educator

December 2015

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Page 19 of 63

From Fair Share fee payer to activist ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ Sweetwater Education Associa- tion President Rodriguez has served for 28 years as a government and economics teacher at Otay Ranch High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District. It's pretty ironic that I'm a union chapter president today, considering that I began my career as a "Fair Share payer " and not as a union member at all. But a close colleague spoke to me about all of things I could take for granted as a new teacher — ranging from due process protections to fair salaries to sick leave and a secure retire- ment — that had come directly as a result of collective bargaining and union efforts. At the end of the conver- sation, I not only signed up as a union member, I also volunteered to hand out fliers and work to engage more of my colleagues in the association's work. With mentoring from colleagues, over time I took on more responsibility until I was elected to CTA's State Council of Education, serving on committees including Credentials and Professional Development, and Politi- cal Involvement. As a union member, I have a chance every day to help make students' lives better. The work we do through our union removes the bureaucracy and obstacles that can get in the way so educators can do what they want to do — teach our students. I believe we need to think about our unions as more than just organizations that provide better salaries and benefits. Unions are agents of change for workers, our stu- dents and our communities. When we come together and make it a priority, we can have a greater impact on issues of social justice and economic inequality. Proud of his colleagues DAN KIVETT Redlands Education Support Pro- fessionals Association President Kivett is a public safety officer with the Redlands Unified School District. He was at Victoria Elementary School next door to the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino when a couple opened fire and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others on Dec. 2. Victoria Elementary went into lockdown, requiring staff — including teachers and education support professionals like secretaries, cafeteria workers and janitors — to act quickly and calmly, despite the danger. I am very proud of all educators at Victoria. They played a vital part in making sure children were safe and secure. Teachers and ESPs comforted students and got them safely to their parents. Despite their own fears, they main- tained composure so as not to have children give in to their own anxieties. Training and safety drills supported by the Redlands ESP Association made all the difference. We have been strong proponents with the district for the training that prepared our members to respond to this kind of emergency. Throughout my 16 years focusing on student safety, my co-workers and I have seen various threats to our stu- dents, but because of our union, we've been able to work together to develop ideas and practices to improve safety conditions for students and their communities. It's why I got involved. I saw the difference we could make both in and out of the classroom by speaking with one voice. The Friedrichs case concerns me because it has the potential to take this all away and greatly impact our ability to stand up for our students and communities. 18 W I T H T H E L A W S U I T Friedrichs v. CTA going before the Supreme Court in January, members are speaking out about what CTA means to them, how the union is integral to the work they do with students every day and their goals for our economic future. Ad d y our v oic e to a grow in g li st of w orkin g m en and w om en t akin g a st and . Tel l us y our stor y at For details about the Friedrichs case, see pages 36-41. #OurVoiceOurUnion e court of public opinion is in session, and your voice counts — now ADD YOUR VOICE

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