NEA and MSEA were created to mobilize workplace employees—to increase individual power by many acting as one. Change requires collective action through a recognized body. Collective actions like working to rule, appearing at board of education budget meetings, contacting county and state lawmakers, and networking with community organizations are proven to make a difference.
It’s illegal for educators to strike in Maryland. That’s why we must use collective action. Working to rule can help raise awareness with parents, the media, and public officials about the frequency with which dedicated educators take on additional duties that benefit both students and schools. Successful work to rule campaigns require commitment, courage, and clear communication with members and the public. If your union calls for a work to rule action, you’ll be contacted with instructions. In the meantime, here’s a basic guide:
• Adhere to your contract. Attend all required meetings, but nothing more.
• If you have not already committed to a voluntary activity, decline requests to do so by the administration.
• If you have already committed to an activity verbally or by signing a contract, ask to be released from the duty. If you are not released, report to the activity.
• If you perform a certain voluntary activity year after year, without a specific agreement, immediately inform the administration before the activity begins that you will not perform the activity for that year.
• If an administrator directs you to perform an otherwise voluntary activity, perform the activity and immediately contact your union.
As educators our time is valuable. Sometimes it is necessary to pull back and remind administrators and supervisors how valuable we really are. Collective action, like working to rule, can be a powerful tool for your negotiations team at the bargaining table. It’s amazing to see the change of attitude of board negotiators when confronted with an active, aware, involved group of educators willing to take action to protect their careers, students, and schools.