Arizona Education Association

Spring 2017

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Page 20 of 39

SPRING 2017 | ADVOCATE 21 Local Perspective Looking for Community and Support, New Educators in Arizona Turn to the Union By Cindy Long, NEA Today I t's tough to make a dollar stretch on an educator salary—especially a new educator salary. Many new educators in Yuma, Az., weren't sure how joining the union could change that—that is until they directly benefited from the collective power of the Yuma Education Association. Now many have recognized that they can't afford not to join. Last spring the union and its partners fought hard to pass Proposition 123, which will increase funding for Arizona public schools for 10 years. The law raises spending by about $300 per student and boosts educator salaries, which had been stagnant since the Great Recession. At the start of the 2015 – 2016 school year, several months before the law passed, there were 19 members of the Yuma Education Association (YUEA). A year later, the number is at 90 and growing. Joseph Daily is an active YUEA member who helped passed Proposition 123. He is always on the lookout for opportunities to talk to new educators about the importance of belonging to the union so that they can accomplish even more for students and schools. He finds that many new educators respond well to him because he can empathize with their struggles, both professional and financial. It wasn't that long ago that he walked in their shoes. "It was right in the middle of the Great Recession when I got married and started having children," says Daily, who has three kids now, all under the age of four. "Money got tight and membership dues were the first to go. I'd been a member for two years when I decided I had to drop it to save money starting in the 2010 school year." But even without dues expenses, money was still tight. And when he looked around, he realized that he was surrounded by educators who, like him, were woefully underpaid and stretched in a "million different directions." Daily rejoined because he knew that without the union nothing was going to change. Continues on p. 30

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