Today was the New AR (Association Representative) and CR (Council Representative) orientation at SDEA. It was heartening to see Breakfast Club members who have just started to get involved, or reengaging in union work. Becoming an AR or CR is a great way to get involved in the democratic process within the union. It was a good training and we learned pertinent information about what the duties of an AR and CR include.
In a nutshell, the AR functions as a link between the union and the members at the site. ARs listen to members and assist with grievances, contract questions, and organize members at the site level.
We also learned that there are two kinds of SDEA employees who can assist ARs when dealing with contract issues and grievances: Contract Specialists, and Field Organizers. If an AR has a question that he or she cannot answer, the Contract Specialist is contacted. There are two at SDEA: Larry Moreno and Rafal Dobrowolski. These gentlemen can help with specific contract questions or problems that may occur at your site. The Field Organizers (There are five: Abdul Sayid, Anthony Saavedra, Erin Clark, Jonathon Mello, and Morgan Thornberry) can assist with meetings that you hold at your site and are more “hands on” to help with issues are the site level.
It was suggested that ARs create an “Organizing Team” at each site to help disseminate information to all members. This is a good idea for those of you at larger sites so that it becomes easier to get information out to everyone.
We received a handout on the “Robert’s Rules of Order”- the parliamentary procedures standard that our union uses in Rep Council and SDEA board meetings. These procedures allow large groups to navigate a meeting in a democratic manner and are important to know before attempting to bring up new ideas or votes on the floor. These rules are important, as many of you have been attending Rep Council Meetings who are new, and may be unfamiliar with the procedures of this type of large meeting. We encourage you to read up on the ways in which to make motions, debate, and vote on motions on the floor. NOTE- ONLY ARs and CRs are allowed to vote. If you attend a Rep Council meeting and are NOT an elected AR or CR, you are not allowed to make or vote on motions. This should inspire some of you to get involved! The votes in Rep Council are an integral part of our union democracy.
Additionally, sites with more than 30 SDEA members, receive additional votes in the form of CRs. Each site gets one CR (Council Representative) per additional 20 SDEA members at that site. So if you are at a site with 100 teachers, technically your site should have one AR and 4 CRs. That’s FIVE votes that your site ALONE will get at Rep Council meetings! This could make a huge difference at upcoming meetings when motions are up for a vote. In June there was a motion on the floor to drop the phone survey (it was completely ignored anyway, or course, but at that time it was still going on) that lost by ONE vote. Your votes count! Whatever your opinion, we encourage you to get involved and think about running for AR, CR, or even running for an SDEA board seat in the future.