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Why I'm a Member

 

 

New Jersey Educator Helps to Build Membership

By Jaime Valente

My NEA membership is a privilege—one that I have taken for granted and worked for very hard. My journey as a union member began right out of college, when I began working in a New Jersey school district where the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) had represented educators for a long time. During my first week of employment, the local union membership chair approached me. I readily signed up. My contract was in place. My rights were being protected.

Eventually, I relocated and became the musical director at Teaneck Community Charter School where educators did not have the NJEA to represent their concerns. There was no contract, and employees’ rights were completely unprotected. As a previous NJEA member, I knew this should not be the case for any educational professional, regardless of whether they teach in a traditional public school or a public charter school. To me, there was only one solution to this issue: Organize the union at my charter school.

Along with like-minded colleagues, I began the process of bringing NJEA to my school. Now—following one year of active campaigning—we are a fully affiliated school working to negotiate our first collectively bargained contract and protect the rights of our members. This process has given me the experience and opportunity to work with NJEA to organize other public charter schools. We want to protect our many brothers and sisters who work at public charter schools across our state.

My efforts are founded upon two important, yet simple, beliefs: Every educator in this country deserves a fair contract, and every educator deserves someone to protect their essential rights. I want to make these things a reality for my brothers and sisters across the country. This is why I’m a member.

 

“Every educator in this country deserves a fair contract, and every educator deserves someone to protect their essential rights.”
—Jaime Valente 

 

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Published In

1-Apr-15

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