In Rhinebeck, the SRP local asks each member to do one thing a year.
“The executive team puts in a lot of hours. We say to them, ‘This is your unit. We can’t be a great team if we don’t all participate,’” said Stacy Stoliker, president of the Rhinebeck Association of Non-Instructional Employees.
Members can choose to deliver a union food bank donation, assist with a financial audit, help distribute the bimonthly newsletter, join a committee, help plan retiree sendoffs, attend a regional SRP conference or assemble goodie bags for SRP Appreciation Day.
The local also takes advantage of branding.
“The first Friday of every month we wear the ANIE T-shirt or button,” Stoliker said.
Coming off of a year like no other, leaders from School-Related Professional unions around the state are sharing concerns and ideas for growth during their first in-person visits with NYSUT Second Vice President Ron Gross.
“I’ve been waiting to do this since COVID-19 shut everything down,” said Gross, who was elected in May 2020. “Now I’m hitting the ground running.”
Many SRPs have had their jobs reconfigured to serve students during the pandemic. Paraprofessionals learned new technology; bus drivers began carrying food instead of students to help families in need; custodians had to learn new sanitizing protocols.
“We’re speaking about issues as a result of COVID-19, how it changed the work environment and how they got through this past year. Every one of the SRPs was impacted,” Gross said.
Gross has already visited SRP local leaders in Great Neck, Kenmore, Buffalo and Half Hollow Hills. In September he will be meeting with other SRP locals in Rochester, Central New York, Tarrytown, Nassau, Suffolk, the Southern Tier, Capital District and Western New York.
His ears will be tuned for how they are making their unions stronger and better.
“What are the elements of successful SRP locals?” he asked. “How do we help locals attain a level of success? What kinds of training are needed?”
Gross is a proponent of activism, branding and communication and gave kudos to Rhinebeck’s plan to showcase their local year-round.
“You don’t want to have to break out your T-shirt because you’re in trouble,” Gross said. “Be proud.
Represent your union in good times and in bad, at the supermarket and at school.”
SAVE THE DATE
“Together again: SRP leaders creating a better tomorrow,” is the theme for the SRP Leadership Conference scheduled for Oct. 29–31.