Blog

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!

Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President’s Campaign Speech 4-3-2017

The transcript for Becca’s speech before the REA Building Representatives and Executive Board on 4-3-2017 at our monthly REA Meeting can be found below. Please feel free to contact Becca at r.ritchie@comcast.net if you have any questions.  Thank you!

————————————————

President Kennedy once said, “The time to fix the roof is before it rains.” Seeing the dark storm clouds approach prompted me to run for REA president because we need to renew a climate of strength which bolsters our association.

We can’t get through this storm with half of an umbrella. We need strong leadership to protect our members AND a member-driven union to shield us from the downpour.

Many of you might say a leader is a voice for the voiceless. Others would say a leader has proven their strength and character.

I stand before you today to say that I will listen to your ideas and concerns, and be a voice to follow-up with action, directly, transparently, with trust, respect and robust communication.  Using MY strength and character, Your voice will drive the direction of the association creating a union we can all be proud of.

Throughout my career I’ve taught and led in many capacities ranging from building, district, union and community leadership. While I own these accomplishments, this speech today isn’t about my past, it is about creating a vision for OUR future. If you or members in your building are curious about my leadership experience please visit our website at highlightingmembersneeds.org .

Together, by empowering our Executive Board, bargaining team, and building reps we will develop working conditions our members want and so desperately need.  Our team will answer to YOU, the members, and will make sure that district education policies are driven by YOUR voice.

Through bargaining, we will create a culture that prioritizes a healthy work-life balance and addresses teacher burnout. Our teachers are dedicated, but THEY ARE exhausted. We must recognize this and design policies that value members’ time and
is not just another thing added to teachers’ plates.  


Meetings, additional hours, new initiatives…they all should be decided upon collaboratively and not create trivial work. Administrators need to be held accountable for the state’s vision of TPEP, a professional growth evaluation, so members feel supported and valued, not belittled and incompetent.

With a stronger voice and leadership, we can improve REA’s compensation and benefits which our educators in Renton clearly deserve. Policies not yet part of our contract need to be focused on.  Seeking your input, in ongoing ways throughout the bargain, informs your bargaining team to better know if your interests are being met. We will advocate for member involvement in decision making around authentic assessment that informs your practice and creates a balance between teaching and testing.


Discipline issues are adding stress and workload to our members. The district must provide consistent policies and supports for teachers and their students. Bargaining language that represents your voice to these systems will decrease your frustration, while increasing teaching and learning time.


We recognize the needs of our members do not end with classroom teachers. ESA’s and specialists are a vital part of what we do for children every day. Their workloads are driving them away from Renton. AND This MUST stop.  


In order for REA leadership to organize and engage members in this work, we will provide tools through 21st century 2-way communication platforms. One example of this, will include a website for members to access pertinent association documents, our contract, an events calendar, FAQs, feedback links and Association leadership contact information.


One of my core beliefs is that We ARE the union…no one person can do it all, but together we create strength and the influence over the working conditions that OUR members ought  to have.


I am a leader who reaches out and includes others to share their passions, as well as their concerns. This new approach will foster an association that is strong, vibrant and engaged to better address challenges like workload, compensation and discipline.

I am more than ready to do this! Everything I have learned has prepared me for this opportunity to serve you. Your voice and YOUR expertise are pivotal to REA and the students we teach every day because together, a stronger association will shield us from the impending downpour.


I hope you will join in this shared vision. I’m Becca Ritchie and I ask you for your vote for president of REA. Thank you.



Joe Bento, REA Vice President on Why I Support Becca for REA President 


I’m voting for Becca Ritchie for REA president because Becca has a track record of being involved in the community, supporting students and connecting REA members to resources. 

Becca has a vision of multiple people holding the keys to leadership and helping people reach their full potential. She believes in delegation, sharing responsibilities, and making sure that multiple voices are part of the conversation. 

Becca has shown this as the Rainier Uniserv Council Vice President and in multiple other groups and organizations that she is connected with. Becca will help put the “you” back in Union! With Becca as president, I believe that REA will be a better, stronger organization.
– Joe Bento, REA Vice President 

Why Vote for Change in REA? 


How will REA be different with me as president?

Years of service as a local, state, and national leader has shown a repeated and clear trend from our educators: Growing workloads and our less-than competitive compensation packages are driving talented teachers out of Renton, and out of the profession. 

Renton schools are made up of diversely talented educators. Reclaiming a healthy work-life balance will become our priority. One way to accomplish this would be to equip and empower our Executive Board members, building representatives, and the bargaining team so that we can all better serve you and help advocate effectively, engage in pro-education political action, and unite across the district to solve the biggest problems we face each day. 

As president, in shared power with your Executive Board, we will work tirelessly to assure that the classroom expert’s voices drive decision-making. Frequent listening sessions to understand your unique passions, talents, and concerns will be hosted by the leaders you have elected. 

REA’s interest will be guided by your voice. Combining 21st century 2-way communication platforms with face-to-face conversations will ensure you are heard at every level of decision-making. A webpage that houses REA’s calendar, bylaws, constitution, contract and other governing documents will be accessible to provide transparency to members in a way that is empowering. 

When our UNION amplifies YOUR voice, YOUR concerns, and YOUR ideas, OUR profession is made stronger. I am ready to make REA a union that serves its members and our collective voice.

– Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President 
 

Join Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President 3-31-17


I want to give a huge THANK YOU to those who came to The Red House on the 22nd to join us at our campaign kick-off. I enjoyed getting an opportunity to talk to each of you and hear your concerns, as well as share the vision we have developed for what our Union can be.

Great food, companionship and laughter filled the house as we unwound after a long day’s work. Old friends were reunited and many stories were shared.

As I looked around the room, so many colleagues, worn out under crushing workloads, gave encouragement and energy to one another. When we gather together, and lift one another up, we are stronger and focused on a common good.

Join me at The Berliner on Friday, March 31st for our 2nd Meet and Greet/Listening Session. The Berliner is located in downtown Renton at 221 Main Street. Parking can be found across the street. Join me for appetizers and the time to share your needs with me, because you are the reason I am running for REA President!

Sign on to the Facebook Event here and be sure to like and share our Facebook page!

In solidarity,

Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President and Nelsen Middle School Computer Teacher

– Highlighting Members’ Needs Campaign