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After years of disappointment, Martin County ESPA wins recognition, the right to a contract for classified employees When the Martin County school board voted 4-1 at its October 8 meeting to recognize the Martin County Education Support Professionals Association and agreed to bargain with MCESPA on a contract for the district’s classified school employees, the association’s leaders paused briefly to celebrate a milestone they have worked toward for years. For youth services center director Nora Ray, president of MCESPA, the wait has been 23 years. Ray said that throughout those years, “I have been a member of the union and the school district never would recognize us. I have been told many times they never would. “I just want to be treated fairly,” Ray added. “That’s all. Just treat us fairly.” Sonny Vaughan, who works as an HVAC master for Martin County Schools and is vice president of MCESPA, is making his second serious attempt at organizing the district’s classified employees. He said, “I was very involved in the early 2000s, but I got away from it.” Vaughan said his efforts a decade ago ultimately proved disappointing because “it is hard to get people in this community to stand for something. Our classified employees here were told, ‘You don’t need KEA. Whatever KEA gets for the teachers, you’ll get.’ Leaders of the Martin County Education Support Professionals Association (clockwise from left): Glemia Dalton, secretary; Sonny Vaughan, vice president; Connie Brewer, treasurer; and Nora Ray, president. And they accepted that. Of course, their bosses never told them they wouldn’t get any representation, or that it’s ‘my way or the highway’ and you have no protection in your job.” Vaughan said he got “frustrated with the membership.” Though he and other leaders recruited well at the time and “probably had the largest sign-up they ever had here,” he said. “If you only get half the people you really can’t get much done. We just didn’t have enough employees sign up and say they would stand up.” By 2010, said KEA UniServ Director Tim Southern, Martin County ESPA, “was a stagnant local, without leadership or anything going on.” That was when Glemia Dalton “stepped up and said, let’s do this.” Dalton, a transportation dispatcher, bus driver and driver trainer, said, “We had to do something. I didn’t like what was going on. Somebody had to step up.” With Dalton as president; bus driver Connie Brewer as treasurer; Robin Howard as secretary and the late Fred McCoy as vice president, Southern said the local “got active again, and we started talking about contracts and recognition for ESP members.” “We told the board members we wanted a contract like the teachers had,” Dalton said. “We told them we needed it because we weren’t being treated right without it.” Southern added, “It just blossomed from there.” On June 9 of this year, after Dalton had told the group she wanted to stay active but couldn’t continue as president, they met and held elections. Members of MCESPA elected Ray and Vaughn and re-elected Brewer, and then, Southern said, “We set some goals.” Ray said, “We started talking about relationships. And when we left, we had a plan to get to know the members of the school board, and to let them get to know us.” The leaders Please see ‘For Martin County’ on page 4 Boone County ESP president Hamelin secures local’s future by mentoring ‘next generation’ Joe Hamelin, who in nearly eight years as president of the Boone County Classified Employees Association has more than doubled its membership and built a productive working relationship with Boone County Public Schools management, the Boone County school board and other EA and ESPA groups in northern Kentucky, is not taking any chances with BCCEA’s future; he already has begun to mentor the next generation of association leaders. Heather Shultz, a bus driver Hamelin recruited into leadership in the local last year, is secretary of BCCEA and one of the local’s recruiters. She attended a KEA-led recruitment training workshop with Hamelin last year and now periodically visits with classified school employees at their work sites to talk with them about the benefits of membership in KEA. Hamelin said the recruiting effort was conceived as part of a KEA membership grant BCCEA applied for and received two years ago. “For a long time BCCEA was perceived as a ‘bus drivers’ local,” Hamelin said. “Most of our members were drivers because we were drivers and it was easiest to recruit drivers. That’s who we worked with. We realized if we were going to really grow we needed to find a way to get into the schools and other work sites to recruit other classified employees.” The KEA grant, which was to have been for one year but, Hamelin said, he “managed to stretch out over two years,” paid for release time for BCCEA Heather Shultz, secretary of the Boone County Classified Employees Association recruiters to make those school (second from left), talked with her mentor, visits and visits to other work sites BCCEA President Joe Hamelin, before the start of the group’s October meeting. Please see ‘Emerging KEA leader’ on page 5

Kea News volume 50 issue 2

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