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The Importance of Elections

The Importance of Elections

In my time in education, I have heard many versions of the statement “I am not political, I just want to do my job.” Such a sentiment is certainly understandable, especially in the political climate we are currently going through as a country. However, it is precisely because of this current climate that we need to be more politically active than ever.

One of the main reasons education is at the forefront of politics is money. Education is the largest share of our state budget, accounting for approximately 35 to 40% of state spending. It is also one of the few places in the budget where legislators can use discretion when deciding how much to spend. So you can bet that many different interests are always trying to direct the education piece of the budget to other places.

Who we have making these decisions matters. Not every legislator understands the complexities of educating kids or is willing to give us all of the resources our students deserve. But because of our work and our organizing every election, a majority of our legislators do listen and generally want to be helpful to education. This year that means we will see the Budget Stabilization Factor brought down to its lowest level in years, which means more resources for our students and salary increases for educators.

This year especially, please put the apprehension about politics aside and get involved in upcoming elections. We need your help to make sure our elected officials listen to us and put more resources toward public education.

Kevin Vick is a high school social studies teacher and vice president of the CEA.

Collective Bargaining is Good for Democracy

The recent strike by the grocery workers at King Soopers, and the subsequent favorable agreement, has brought to mind the importance of workers’ ability to participate in a union. The truth is that most workers in a union never go on strike, but it is an important tool to have to leverage a genuine partnership in the workplace.

Essentially, the main purpose of a union, in my mind, is to bring democracy to our working environment. I have always found it ironic that people fight so hard to defend democracy in every aspect of their lives, except at work. Organizing a union as representation is the easiest way to bring these democratic processes to the workplace. The idea that workers get a voice on who represents them in workplace decisions through elections mirrors the way we elect representatives for government. The process of collective bargaining brings an orderly process for workers to be heard (and management to be heard as well, by the way). Most importantly, collective bargaining establishes a process for workplace decision-making that is generally trusted by workers and management alike. So that even if the outcome is not particularly what an individual may want, the parties both trust that the decision was fairly discussed and decided, and everyone’s concerns were heard.

Winston Churchill once said that, “Democracy is the worst form of Government, except for all of the others.” Collective bargaining is not a perfect system, but is the only one that gives everyone in a workplace a chance to be heard, just like democracy.

CEA Vice President Kevin Vick and CEA-Retired member Eliza Hamrick stand next to one another at a picket line during the King Soopers strike.

Kevin Vick is a high school social studies teacher and vice president of the CEA.