This August, two team of Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA) members, led by staff organizer Elissa Edge, will spend two weeks in Alabama helping school employees there unionize. The state of Alabama doesn’t legally recognize the right of public employees to bargain collectively, but that doesn’t mean workers can’t get organized and push for improvements.
It’s all part of the Back-to-School Organizing Campaign, an annual effort by OSEA’s parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, to help build the union movement among school employees in the South. Besides Alabama, union member volunteers will campaign in Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas.
AFT pays the cost of transportation and housing, reimburses members up to $65 per day for meals and incidentals, and provides pre-training and on-site training.
It’s the fifth year OSEA has taken part in the program. Twenty members in two teams will be heading out July 25 and Aug. 1 to Mobile, Birmingham, and Central Alabama.