This is a stressful and scary time, which makes it all the more important to celebrate the bright spots—and Thursday night was one for East Granby teachers.
After a four-hour special Zoom town meeting, residents voted to uphold the East Granby Education Association contract 181-21.
“It was one of the high points of my 25 years teaching in this town,” says local president Kevin Iapichino-Dorr. “So many residents spoke up in support of teachers. It was the voice of East Granby saying that in this town, we’re really valued.”
The town meeting was necessary because, after the EGEA negotiated a modest contract in good faith with the Board of Education, some town leaders wanted to go back on the agreement, using this time of economic uncertainty as justification. The Board of Selectmen voted to let the community have their say and vote on the contract.
The EGEA leapt into action, organizing members and parents to turn out for the vote.
Only 17 East Granby teachers live in town, but many teachers who work in other towns reside there. The EGEA reached out to this group of 100 CEA members through emails, phone calls, and text messages.
In an email to CEA members, Iapichino-Dorr reminded them that teachers are critical workers in this pandemic, working tremendously hard to keep students learning and engaged during school closures. Concessions would have been premature at this point, given that the full impact of this pandemic and the resulting needs of the town are unknown.
Many of the CEA members living in town turned out for the Zoom town meeting, as did dozens of parents, and many East Granby Public School alumni. Nearly 30 people spoke, the vast majority of whom were in favor of supporting East Granby teachers and gave eloquent arguments as to why the town should uphold the teachers’ contract.
It was a historic night for the small town. With more than 220 devices in attendance representing an estimated 300 residents, some of whom were sharing screens, last week’s virtual town meeting was the largest anyone in town can remember.
Iapichino-Dorr says that, as local president, he frequently receives support on day-to-day issues that come up in his association from his CEA UniServ Rep, but before the effort to turn CEA members out for the contract vote, “I really didn’t understand all that CEA does for us behind the scenes.”
The East Granby teachers worked with UniServ Rep Suzanne Haviland, Organizer Brendan Murphy, and Political Engagement Coordinator Gus Melita, joined by CEA’s statewide organizer team, to organize members in a very short period of time.
“We’ve never had to do anything like this before in East Granby so I didn’t know what to expect, but I have a renewed appreciation for what it means to be a CEA member,” Iapichino-Dorr says.
He adds, “As we look to the future there are a lot of unknowns, but I feel uplifted that East Granby teachers received such strong community support.”