OSEA Members Organize for AFT in New Mexico

A group of OSEA members headed south this summer as part of the American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) Back-to-School Organizing Program. AFT asks member volunteers to go to areas with the lowest union engagement to support organizing efforts. For the OSEA contingent, that meant Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Zone IV Director Sheila Waggoner, Susan Hardy of ROSE, Alison Celsi of Clackamas County Children’s Commission Chapter 601 and Mitzi Hurt of Centennial Chapter 113 arrived on Aug. 4 ready to do whatever they could to educate and empower the educators of New Mexico. They visited with staff at new hire orientations and back-to-school events and even went door-to-door talking to nonmembers about why the union is important.

“For the most part, everyone was happy to see us,” said Waggoner. “A lot of people we talked to weren’t so much interested in union benefits like discounts. They really wanted someone to back them up on the job.”

But even when the people who talked to them weren’t ready to join AFT, the OSEA volunteers enjoyed talking to them and making connections. “We shared the benefits and talked about what their concerns were, what they were looking for,” said Waggoner.

AFT recruits organizing volunteers every summer to provide help, labor and good energy for chapters that need it. If you are interested in volunteering next summer, contact OSEA Director of Organizing by emailing Richard Ramirez or (800) 252-6732.