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Building Power from the Ground Up

The Colorado Education Association’s Growth, Leadership, & Union Engagement (GLUE) program is a year-round, three phase program that teaches rank and file members and emerging leaders foundational organizing skills. When members utilize organizing skills in order to solve issues in their school district and state, they will win better public schools and create a stronger CEA in which members see themselves as the union. The program focuses on training, practice, coaching, and check-in’s with CEA Zone Organizers. GLUE participants engage in one-on-one conversations with members and potential members about specific issues that affect their school, students, and districts in order to achieve a win that builds the union and its members.

This year, CEA hosted 19 members from five locals across the state for phase one of the GLUE program Jun. 14 – Aug. 13. Phase one of the program focused on foundational organizing skills in order to build power and strength for their local union, such as solidifying one-on-one conversational skills, how to identify leaders, how to identify issues, and new member recruitment. Local staff and leaders helped their members in the program acquire potential member and new hire lists, worked with local teams on planning, and provided membership materials in order for member organizers in Ed Summer to successfully recruit new members and host successful new employee events.

The ongoing pandemic once again required us to use a combination of virtual and in-person training in order to keep our members safe. While virtual training helped make training easier to access for members across the metro area, it also made it difficult to build relationships with the members in the program. Training sessions were held twice a week, allowing members time to practice new skills in between sessions. This allowed us to go into more depth and cover more content since we broke a week of training into smaller parts. Additionally it created more frequent and regular times from members across locals to come together, building more relationships across local unions.

GLUE members were on committees in their locals to help or lead the organizing effort for their local union’s new employee events and they spent the summer phone banking other members and potential members. Due to the ease of accessibility, members were able to phone bank on their own schedule, regardless of if they were at home or traveling. Phone banking has been proven to be one of the easiest tools to do member outreach, especially during the summer, allowing members to make and receive calls regardless of their schedule.

Finally, GLUE members were able to engage with more of their colleagues across the state through CEA’s Professional Practice Program Speaker Series. Members attended “Creating a Place to Thrive: The BIPOC Experience” hosted by Denver Classroom Teachers Association members Kevin Adams and Gerardo Munoz from “Too Dope Teachers and a Mic” podcast.

Christine Wiggins is a Director of Organizing and Capacity Building in CEA’s Center for Organizing.