ESPs Organize for Unity and Strength

Harford County school nurses and secretaries prep for 2017-18 negotiations.


Terry Johnson is a school nurse at Deerfield Elementary School in Harford County.

“As a leader, I’m trying to get people involved in the issues that we see need changing,” said nurse Terry Johnson.

With the data from two focus groups behind them, Harford County’s public school nurses are working hard to build numbers and strength. Since October 2015, a group of nurses and secretaries have banded together to create job-specific councils, take the pulse of members and non-members, and build consensus as they prepare for open contract negotiations for the 2017–18 school year.

Building capacity is the goal. The Harford County Educational Services Support Council (HCESC)Organizing Team — HOT for short — is also reaching out to millennials. As leaders emerge, a Millennial Council is planned to identify unique concerns and challenges so their own organizing can begin.

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Terry Johnson, a former hospital nurse now at Deerfield Elementary, believes in her union: “This is new for me. In the hospital, if you mention the word ‘union’ you’re fired. We’re learning and we want others to understand that they have to join the fight for things that they want. You can’t just ask for it and get it.”