Here is What #UnionStrong Looks Like

Engagement * Bargaining * Advocacy * Justice * Empowerment * Support

by Brenda Ortega
MEA Voice Editor

Strength in union takes many forms.

It can look like a team of bleary-eyed bargainers negotiating a contract through the wee hours of morning, or a crowd of educators standing in solidarity for what’s right.

It’s training and developing new leaders who build the next generation of activists, but it’s also the strength of the collective protecting an individual.

NEA President Becky Pringle joined other civil rights and labor leaders in Detroit for the Fighting for Our Vote Rally in August. (Photo: Jeffrey Sauger Photography)

It’s striving and planning and building a better union from the ground up, and leveraging that power to offer everyone the opportunities of a great education in a healthier, more just and equitable society.

Union strong certainly looks like NEA President Becky Pringle, who traveled to Detroit in August as part of a coalition of hundreds of civil rights and labor leaders rallying in Detroit, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. to stop voter suppression in states across the country.

At the rally, Pringle spoke powerfully to the goals of the Fighting for Our Vote coalition that NEA joined: passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, protecting and expanding mail and early voting options, and efficient election administration.

In many states, including Michigan, Republicans are passing or trying to pass laws to curtail voting with strict ID requirements, fewer voting locations and ballot drop-boxes, and reduced voting days and hours—all premised on the falsehood that Donald Trump did not lose the election and all disproportionately affecting the young, poor, and voters of color.

The right to vote is the right to be heard, Pringle said. She urged everyone’s attention because ensuring the right to exercise voice and power through voting is at the core of public education’s promise.

“Detroit—we must be vigilant demanding that this country lives up to its promise!” she cried. “It’s ‘We the people’! All of us! We will be vigilant in fighting for our vote, because our babies are depending on us to be worthy of them!”

Pringle returned to Michigan in September as part of her nationwide Joy, Justice & Excellence tour.

She met with leaders of a Resilient Schools project in Lincoln Park, visited Farmington’s Warner Middle School to learn how staff and students have coped in the pandemic, and was briefed on attacks against school boards in Michigan, reflecting incidents across the country.

Here and throughout this issue we lift up members and leaders whose stories demonstrate the spirit, determination and vitality of MEA and NEA. The fact is strength in union can be witnessed everywhere. It looks a lot like you.

Read more #UnionStrong stories: 

Plan Points the Way to Solidarity, Strength, Success

Flint Teachers Unite for Contract Win

Local Unions Report Successful Bargains Across State

Union Members Stand Up in Emotional Board Testimony

Local Actions Combat Bullying Behavior at Board Meetings

Union Caucus in Ann Arbor Targets Special Education Issues

A Big Bold Thanks to the Mighty MEA

MEA Helps Carries Member Through Twists and Turns

MEA Voice Feature

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