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Cover story: Our story and our strength is you

It’s a great story.

From PSEA’s origins in 1852, the Association has been fighting for public education. And since that cold March day in 1968, when nearly 20,000 educators flooded the Capitol steps in Harrisburg to demand better salaries, benefits, and working conditions, that’s what PSEA has delivered.

That is a great story.

And, across Pennsylvania, local leaders are reminding their members about how important it is to belong to PSEA.


Before the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue an opinion in Janus v. AFSCME, a case designed to reverse 40 years of legal precedent and aimed at crippling public sector unions like ours.

The theory behind it, pushed hard by well-funded union adversaries, is that non-union employees covered by union contract protections shouldn’t have to pay “fair share” fees for the union-negotiated and union-provided services they enjoy.

In other words, Janus proponents argue, non-union employees should get those services for free.

“PSEA’s strength comes from our membership,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. “Because we have so many members in so many local associations, we can bargain for the salaries, benefits, and working conditions our members deserve. Without those numbers, we could lose that leverage.”

As McCracken has said time and time again, PSEA’s success in ensuring that members earn what they deserve and are treated with respect is a great story. She and PSEA’s other executive officers – Vice President Rich Askey and Treasurer Jeff Ney – are urging every local leader to tell it.

“Rich, Jeff, and I have personally called every PSEA local president and asked them to hold one-on-one conversations with their members to remind them how important it is to belong to PSEA,” McCracken said. “That’s 1,044 phone calls. And we were happy to make each and every one of them.”

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, according to McCracken.

Across Pennsylvania, members are also having conversations about the importance of belonging to their local associations and PSEA, and how one strong state Association helps all locals.

“The point is that we’re all in this together – and our strength is in our numbers,” she said. “The key word is ‘we.’ Together and united, we’re strong.”

That strengtah not only helps to secure strong local contracts, salaries, benefits, and working conditions, but also translates into pro-public education policies that keep class sizes low, ensure that state funding flows into public schools, and reduce the time kids spend on standardized tests.

None of that is possible without a strong membership – the kind of strong membership PSEA has enjoyed for decades.

“I really believe in this Association,” McCracken said. “And I know that our members believe in it, too. They understand just how crucial it is to belong. And they understand that choosing not to belong will make it tougher to get the compensation and protections we all deserve.”

McCracken has said that PSEA can’t do much to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court justices in the Janus case, but they can tell PSEA’s story.

A story this great is a powerful tool.

Here’s how some local leaders are telling the story

A personal touch

Mike Tshudy
Indiana Area EA

Your job insurance

Sandi Gackenbach
Parkland EA

Working for you

Eugene Ruocchio
State College EA