The JESPA membership has now ratified the agreement reached by the bargaining team. While we had several great wins with new contract language and wage schedules, the district fought many of the transformative changes we had advocated for, including vital issues such as livable wages, adequate staffing, improved health benefits, and an end to outsourcing. While we feel the weight of this disappointment, it only fuels our resolve to fight harder for the rights and demands that remain unmet.
It is disheartening to recognize that the ratified agreement falls short of addressing the critical issues we face within our professions. Paraprofessional and paraeducator staffing ratios, a fundamental aspect of providing quality education, have not been adequately addressed. Understaffing in custodial, food service, and transportation still persists. You and your coworkers deserve reasonable workloads that ensure the best possible learning environment for our students.
Furthermore, our call for improved health benefits, which are essential for the well-being of our members and their families, has not been fully realized. We understand the importance of affordable, comprehensive coverage and fair access to healthcare, and we will continue to push for these essential rights.
Another pressing concern is the alarming trend of outsourcing, which threatens student safety and job security and undermines the expertise and dedication of our union members. Our fight against outsourcing will persist as we strive to protect and preserve the integrity of our professions and maintain consistent, quality, and reliable services for our students, especially those who are most vulnerable.
Moreover, the struggle for livable wages remains at the forefront of our mission. ESPs deserve fair compensation that reflects the invaluable contributions they make to the lives of our students and the community as a whole. Our commitment to livable wages remains steadfast.
We came to the table with visionary proposals, and although we fell short of achieving our vision, let us not lose sight of the larger battle that lies ahead. We must channel our disappointment into a renewed determination to advocate for the changes we seek. Our resolve is unwavering, and we are prepared to expand our efforts, uniting to demand the changes that will shape the future of our professions.
In the face of adversity, we call upon each and every member to remain actively engaged within our union. Share your stories, voice your concerns, and contribute to the development of a powerful strategy that will propel us forward. Together, we have the strength to effect meaningful change and forge a better future for ourselves and the generations to come.
Our fight does not end here; it only gains momentum. Let us stand together, united in our pursuit. Our union’s strength lies in the resilience and determination of its members. Together, we will triumph.