The future of our union is in the hands of new educators. As a teacher for six years now, I am technically no longer a new graduate, but I’m always keen to work with new colleagues and to share my union experience. I’m particularly keen to help other young educators understand why it’s crucial they join the AEU.
Many new educators are young, entering their first professional career after study. Some are a little older and have found teaching to be a new direction. Both bring a fresh perspective to our wonderful profession.
In Semester One of this year I had the pleasure of being a Project Officer at the AEU. I visited schools far and wide across Victoria. So many school settings, some with strong and active sub-branches, others with nearly non-existent ones.
One of the things I regularly discovered when visiting schools was that younger graduates are often unaware of the AEU and its role in achieving and upholding our conditions, both past and present. Worryingly, this was a common theme in schools, no matter the strength or presence of the sub-branch.
In order to preserve and build our conditions locally in the workplace, as well as improve the system more broadly, we need all our new educator colleagues to join our union. With an ageing workforce comes the retirement of older members. This poses a challenge in terms of density.
We need to replace retiring members in order to grow and maintain the AEU’s strength into the future, so that we can protect our conditions – which, we need to remember, are ultimately our students’ learning conditions, too.
It is in all of our interests to keep building our strength and activism. This will be critical when considering the next log of claims and upcoming negotiations with the state government for a new agreement. Every agreement governs our working lives for the following four years, so it’s vital that we all have a say and get involved.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to talk to any new educators at your workplace and share with them the reasons why you joined the AEU. What led you to sign up? How has the union supported you?
If you are an experienced teacher, share the history of all that’s been achieved! What wins have you been part of fighting for? There is power in our individual and collective stories of union engagement and collectivism.
Let’s continue to build our strength, so that we can support our students. Ask a new educator to join before the year is up!