“Welcome, all of you,” Waterbury Teachers’ Association (WTA) President Kevin Egan greeted more than 60 new teachers during an orientation program earlier today. “Waterbury is a great district to work in, and you have a strong WTA union here at your disposal.”
CEA UniServ Rep Jim Tessitore told the new teachers that, before working for CEA, he had worked with a variety of other unions.
“Your executive board is one of the best I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “This group here works really hard and advocates for you and your interests.”
Egan and Tessitore talked with new educators about the many benefits of union membership and introduced the WTA executive board so that new teachers would know who to turn to when an issue or question arises.
WTA Executive Board member and Carrington Elementary School library media specialist Sara Lestage remembers first being introduced to the WTA at a similar orientation when she was new to the Waterbury district.
“It was great to know before we started the school year about the benefits of being a WTA and CEA member,” she says. “It was also nice to be able to put faces to names for our WTA officers, to know who to go to when there’s an issue.”
Egan and Tessitore explained that all of the benefits included in the Waterbury teachers’ contract have been negotiated by their fellow teachers in the WTA.
“From your lunch break, to a reimbursement for furthering your education, to stipends for extracurricular positions, the WTA has fought for these benefits through thousands of hours of work,” Tessitore said.
Egan said that a member of the WTA executive board just recently left Waterbury to teach in South Carolina. “I’m receiving texts from him now describing working 12-hour days. ‘You have no idea how it is without a union,’ he says.”
At over 1,600 members, the WTA is one of the largest CEA local associations.
‘We have over 100 building reps located around the city in all of the schools,” Egan said. “Please seek them out. They’re an important resource for you. ”
“We’re here for you for all of those little things that pop up during the year,” Tessitore added.
Egan, who was recently elected CEA treasurer, told teachers that it is their engagement and advocacy that makes their union so strong.
Referring to Waterbury teacher and 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes who recently won her primary in the Fifth Congressional District and Ron Napoli, a social studies teacher at Wilby High School running for the state’s 73rd General Assembly District, Egan said, “We are sending people to Congress. We have another member who is running to be a state representative. We are getting involved and making a difference.”