By ALFREDO ALVARADO
“Stay ready,” was the rallying cry at the weekend retreat for Local 372 shop stewards.
The local’s president, Shaun D. Francois I, welcomed 154 shop stewards to the training sessions, which began on March 3 with a “State of the Local” address by Francois.
Board of Education Employees Local 372 represents more than a dozen titles working in the public schools, including School Crossing Guards, Parent Coordinators, School Aides, Lunch Helpers.
“As shop stewards, you play a critical role in our local,” said Francois in his opening remarks. He also expressed his concern with the new Republican administration in Washington and its anti-union views.
“More than half of the states now are right-to-work states,” warned the local leader.
States with right-to-work-laws pay lower wages, have higher rates of people not covered by health insurance and their families suffer higher rates of infant mortality. Right-to-work states allow workers to refrain from paying dues even though they receive union services.
Saturday began with a series of workshops on such topics as the proper way to handle grievances, improving communication skills, organizing at the worksite and the campaign against the state constitutional convention.
New Yorkers will be asked to decide whether to call for a constitutional convention in a ballot question in the November election. DC 37 opposes the ballot measure.
During his presentation on the constitutional convention, DC 37 Political Director Jeremy John characterized the ballot measure as “a wasteful process.” A vote in favor would give big business interests and anti-worker interests the opportunity to attack public services and the retirement security of the working people who provide them.
“A ‘yes’ vote could put New York on the same road as Michigan and Wisconsin and impose right-to-work laws,” he added.
Parent Coordinator La’Nette Murphy left the weekend retreat ready to tackle the issues of the day.
“It was exactly what we needed,” said Murphy. “The workshops were great. I think everyone feels like they have their batteries recharged. I know I do.”