Leaders and activists from Texas AFT’s Associate Membership Program (AMP) have found ways to exercise their collective power in this pandemic, pushing for meetings with districts across the state to address safety concerns. Much of what has gone wrong in how the state and districts have responded to COVID-19 stems from a lack of educator voices at the decision-making table. That makes the efforts by members in the Brownsville, Southwest Dallas, Judson, and Spring areas all the more important.
By creating health and safety committees and holding regular meetings with superintendents, our members are able to address what’s working and what isn’t with district policy and practices. And these meetings have taken place only because of the insistent demands of union leaders.
In Spring ISD, just north of Houston, members of the AMP organizing committee, on their way to developing a chartered local union, held their first safety meeting early November.
“I am glad that the hard work of the Spring ISD OC has opened doors to be invited to collaborate with the district when they are looking at planning how to respond to the ongoing COVID pandemic,” said Mary Hearns-Ayodele, building representative and social media team leader for the Spring AFT organizing committee. “We, the stakeholders, have much to share and I am looking forward to watching this collaboration grow and develop over time.”
The situation is similar for our Southwest Dallas AFT organizing committee, made up of members from Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, and Lancaster ISDs. In two of those four districts, administrators have agreed to meet with leaders quarterly, and work is underway to schedule monthly meetings.
The results of these meetings differ by district, but across the board, members have been able to make significant progress on addressing issues raised by staff. Administrators in some of these districts seem to have realized the benefit of this consistent communication, too. In Judson ISD, outside of San Antonio, AFT members and district leaders have agreed to hold meetings as often as once per week. In Spring, organizers were asked to assemble a task team to write proposals regarding employee concerns within the district.
These recent wins are examples of how AMP members can advocate for change and make a real impact in their districts. The AMP program includes thousands of members across Texas in school districts without a local union (yet).
Joining AMP is the first step in organizing educators and school employees to take action. As membership grows in a district, that group of activists and leaders forms a more structured organizing committee. From there, an organizing committee may develop into a chartered, self-governing local union.
What You Can Do
These victories are the results of sustained efforts by our members. Our hope is that additional districts will agree to meet with educators and employees to center their concerns on health and safety, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Texas.
- Are you interested in starting a Health and Safety Committee? Check out Texas AFT’s Health and Safety Committee Toolkit to learn how to get started.
- Texas AFT’s statewide COVID-19 tracker is an essential tool to monitor the COVID-19 experience in schools across Texas. Use it to report a COVID-19 case or unsafe working conditions on your campus.
- Not yet a member? Join our union today and build power in your district.