California Educator

MAY 2012

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ACTION The one and only community college ESP chapter Welcome, Lake Tahoe Community College Classified! DIANE LEWIS didn't start out as a union organizer. She didn't come from a union family, and she wasn't a union member in her previous job in broadcast journalism. But the Lake Tahoe Com- munity College library technician has undergone a transforma- tion. Even her e-mail address uses "Norma Rae" after the factory worker turned labor organizer immortalized on film by actress Sally Field. "I' quickly when I got here that we needed to organize. Right now we are among the poorest-paid classified groups in the state, and that's something we' d never been a union member, but I understood pretty helped to organize the Lake Tahoe Community College Clas- sified Employees Union into a chapter of CTA's education sup- port professionals. They are in the process of negotiating their first contract. That advocacy served her well over the past year as she d like to change," she said. "This 'meet and confer' business we had in place had no teeth," Lewis said. "We just couldn't get anything done. includes improved health and welfare benefits, the development of a grievance process that works, and binding arbitration. " Their to-do list ditions under a previous college president ignited the need to organize, they can see the advantage for everyone. A visit by CTA President Dean Vogel in May only confirmed their opinion. Vogel provided the educator's perspective on the challenges While Lewis and her union colleagues acknowledge that con- that K-12 schools and community colleges face in California dur- ing a community event sponsored by the new union. In the face of top-down policy decisions and crippling budget cuts (which will only get worse if the governor's tax initiative is not passed by voters in November), Vogel discussed the need for educators to reach out to friends, neighbors, students and the community to talk about what is going on in their schools and colleges. Noting that the public continues to cite teachers, educators and those who work in schools and colleges as the most trusted voice in education, Vogel said, "The community recognizes you as the ones who are holding this together. How willing are we to stand together to support the needs of our communities?" Vogel's remarks prompted lively discussion and an exchange of contact information among the Lake Tahoe area college classi- fied staff, faculty, K-12 educators and college administrators. CTA Education Support Professionals Day — May 22 Remember to recognize the contributions of school support staff. Education Support Professionals (ESP) include the paraeducators who work directly with students, the clerical service staff who deal with parents, and the custodial and maintenance professionals who make our schools run. They are all important to the success of our schools. Find this poster, an e-card and more at 34 California Educator / May 2012

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