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“You need to learn to take fear and turn it into
anger, and turn that into action,” Potter said.
Make that collective action.
Like the participants in the Organizing
Institute, the members in the Next Generation
Leadership Program — which ran simultaneously
— spent time engaged in one-to-one conversations.
Organizer Ellen David Friedman, who
worked with MTA staff at the Next Gen training in
Natick, had participants in that program interview
Framingham Teachers Association members
at a school site about their union activities,
communication strategies and capacity.
Friedman worked with MTA members
from several different locals on moving from a
mobilizing model to an organizing model.
“Organizing is about building the union,” she
said. “It’s about making trusting relationships.”
Through deep organizing, she said, locals
and the MTA as a whole will grow their power
authentically. That power then drives the myriad
activities — including nuts-and-bolts union work
such as contract bargaining — that were explored
by both new members and presidents.
The success of this year’s Summer Conference
was noteworthy, given that planning was detoured
twice. First, the conference was moved to UMass
Amherst after Williams College informed the MTA
that it could no longer host the event. Then in May,
delegates at the Annual Meeting voted to cancel
the conference at UMass because of a contract
dispute between the university and several of its
unions. Then Springfield was chosen as the main
venue, and the 2015 MTA Summer Conference
successfully brought together several hundred
members from locals across the state for training
programs, union building and socializing.
Trusting relationships are key to building authentic union power
Maria Palmieri, left, a member of the Educational Association of Worcester, and Bob Erlandsen,
vice president of the Cohasset Teachers Association, react to organizer Ellen David Friedman,
right, during a discussion that was part of the Next Generation Leadership Program.
Photo by Scott McLennan