Educators in the Mansfield school district have created a “local-only” teachers association. Other districts such as St. Johns, Waterville and Sprague-Lamont have already abandoned the Washington Education Association (WEA) in favor of a local association.
I met the president of the Mansfield Professional Educators, Ric Bayless, this week and asked him to describe why he thinks this happened. Among the reasons he cited were:
- The WEA was not supported. Only a few of the teachers in the district were WEA members. The politics of WEA were disconcerting to some.
- Better participation. Under the WEA, a small handful of WEA teachers had the sole power to bargain the union contract. All agreed it would be better to have an arrangement allowing greater participation.
- Local priorities. The small town community of Mansfield does not match the tone and expectations of the state union. Workplace representation from the large organization’s perspective can be less sensitive to the necessary ongoing community relationships.
So the teachers met and agreed to form a nonprofit, professional association to serve as the voice of the Mansfield teachers.
One of the most stunning insights Ric offered was, “We get more money for our local effort at $10 a month than we ever had when we paid $70 a month.”
By this he means that nearly all of the money paid as dues went to the union headquarters in Federal Way or Washington, D.C., and few teachers were willing to pay dues.