Susan DuFresne: Why I Support Becca Ritchie for REA President

Why Do I Support Becca Ritchie for REA President?

Renton educators need an REA President who has the ability to strengthen our union by truly understanding the multiple landscapes which impact us as educators. We need a leader who has built the relationships and has the mental agility to traverse those landscapes to positively impact and protect our members. REA members, we can’t afford a local president to be “laser focused” only on local issues – because local members’ needs are not created in a vacuum. Those days are over. A focus on local issues only leaves us with that half an umbrella Becca referred to in her speech to weather this storm. Becca Ritchie is the right candidate for REA President because she understands this so well – and because she has the skills, experience, and positive relationships needed to traverse these layers of influence on members. 

Our local union operates within a much larger system. A great leader must sometimes view the national stage – from a distance and even up close, working with leaders to inform members on national issues concerning NEA, the Department of Ed, our State Congressmen/women and our president. A great leader must also shift their focus to zoom in, again having built the relationships needed to interact closely with WEA leadership, our legislators, our governor, and our state superintendent – discovering when and how to take action on state issues. And a great leader knows when it is time to zoom all the way in – to focus at the local district and building level, or the individual level – to empower Executive Board Members and Building Representatives – to facilitate face-to-face meetings and listening sessions with the members who really need all of their concerns to be heard. To do that, relationships and knowledge across all of these landscapes are necessary to be able to best support members. Becca has successfully built these relationships and experience over time.  

Becca quickly takes the pulse of those outer-circle concerns and analyzes how they will impact local members through years of experience collaborating with – or pushing back against – these entities, as needed. Becca will first take the pulse of local members to determine what actions WE wish to take as a union. The candidate most qualified to do this work as REA President is Becca Ritchie.

Becca will keep us informed of these issues through our meetings and a website for those members who don’t regularly attend our REA meetings, providing a place for 2-way communication and answers to FAQs.  Links to resources at these levels will be provided to allow members access through REA’s website to actions that impact our working conditions. 

Becca doesn’t just listen and represent the members she agrees with politically. She puts union business – that is, member needs – before her own political beliefs. She is a constant voice of reason who insists on representing ALL voices in order to build a more democratic union. She is a person of utmost integrity who will build respect for our association through her actions and her words. Becca walks the walk of integrity and unionism every day. She reaches out to members – even those she disagrees with – to understand their point of view to better serve them with the challenges they are facing. Becca understands that if we are to have an effective union, all members must be equally represented and respected, not merely those who agree with her.  

Becca deals with people through inquiry – by asking questions to develop true understanding. When a member speaks with Becca, they know not only that they have truly been heard, but that she will be there for them and take action to support them. 

Becca uses our union documents, rules, and procedures to support members and lead by giving power back to the true source of our strength – to you our members.  By referring back to our contract, REA Constitution, bylaws, procedures, and rules of order, Becca uses these instruments to guide her actions. She knows these documents are the foundation of our democratically run association. She knows members hold the true seat of power, and through our Executive Board and building representatives, she would be there as president to serve you.

These are only a small fraction of the reasons I place my trust in Becca Ritchie. She will bring members a better contract through a member supported bargaining team, an empowered Executive Board, and empowered building representatives. Becca will serve all of us, bringing solidarity and respect to our union, a healthy work-life balance, improved communication, and competitive compensation packages to our members. I hope you will join me in voting for Becca Ritchie as our next REA President!

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