Volume 44, Number 4 - June/July 2009
Any and every way they can
Newsletters, email, websites, blogs, You Tube, tweets – the mind boggles when it comes to the many methods we now have at our disposal to communicate with one another. What about you? What are the ways you use to communicate with your members? Here is what some of your colleagues had to say about their chapter communications.
Newsletter editor, Centennial Education Faculty Association
We put out a monthly newsletter to all part-time instructors, which I edit. Additionally, we put out flyers as needed. Our union is a part-time instructors association.
CEFA allows me 12 hours a month at non-instructional pay (sometimes it takes more but I'm capped at 12). Anyone submitting articles need to do so electronically--otherwise it would take too much time just typing the articles. On a daily basis, I review emails received from CCA, CTA, NEA and the California Part -time Faculty Association. I also review articles sent from CTA and CCA Presidents. These emails keep us in touch w/national, state, and regional unions.
Communications Officer, San Joaquin Delta College Teachers Association
We have a blog: sjdcwatch.blogspot.com. Lynn Hawley, our local secretary and director of our PAC, writes a monthly or bi-monthly news letter. We also have union listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org). We've done a great deal of phone tree work to keep members informed, and we've made a special effort to contact untenured and adjunct faculty.
In many cases, the only way we could reach adjuncts was to hire a colleague to do brief interviews with them and provide them packets of information on key union issues and contact information if they had questions. I have made fairly solid contacts with three of the local papers - the Lodi News-Sentinel, the Record, and the Tracy Press.
The local also communicated with several of the presidents of K-12 CTA locals. I found the local presidents helpful and willing to cooperate to advance our common interests. We certainly wouldn't have been nearly as successful in the last round of contract negotiations and the Board of Trustees elections last November without our ability to communicate effectively within the local and with the public.
BARBARA PRICE, Ed.D.
President, Coast Community College Association
We have all our members (700+) e-mail addresses and we have a website where we put up announcements and articles, etc. We publish a newsletter 10 times a year and that gets put up on our website as well as is stuffed in all teachers' mailboxes throughout the district at six sites.
Check out the latest newsletter and some announcements at www.coastcca.com.
FERGUS G. CURRIE
President, College of the Desert Adjunct Association
Every four to six weeks I send an email to all adjuncts using the College of the Desert email process and in this email I try to bring the adjuncts up to date on all issues that possibly relate to them and the college. I also attach the monthly report I present at the Board of Trustee meeting so they can see that I am addressing their concerns directly to the Board. Last year when the college was trying to make sure all faculty had TB tests and was having no luck, I sent an email letting them know that unless they got the test done within a specific period of time, the college could ‘fire' them and the union would have a most difficult time defending them. None had paid any attention to college emails on the same subject but my email resulted in dozens of replies and the problem was solved.
This method of communication has meant increased involvement of the adjunct faculty in the affairs of both the union and the college. And it has allowed for rapid response to adjunct faculty problems and issues. Perfect? No. But better than anything tried previously for faculty who have little contact with the college except to come on campus, teach their classes and leave.
President, Imperial Valley College CCA/CTA/NEA
We use a lot of different means to communicate, just like everyone else. Most common is email distribution through the on campus system. In the last contract our District agreed we could use the email system to communicate with members so we don't have any problems. In addition we have established a chapter website: www.ivccta.org We have lots of great stuff on there, including photos from our social events. One of our members acts as webmaster and we host off campus so it has minimal cost and is very convenient. Check it out.
President, Sierra College Faculty Association
Our primary source of direct communication is our monthly newsletter, the Sentinel which always has a president's column as well as a column by the chief negotiator. We also have a section devoted to each center. In the past we have printed this and placed it in each faculty mail box, as well as making copies available all over campus. Two months ago we eliminated the hard copy and moved to digital, distributing it by email to all faculty. The effectiveness of this is yet to be seen. We also have a website, though it has not been fully developed and is not yet a place that most faculty think to go for information. We're working on changing that this coming year. We are in the process of updating the website, adding blogs for each of the board officers. A third way that we communicate is through periodic ‘Updates' that I send out to faculty to let them know about important issues, changes, etc. These are usually short and to the point. Finally, we have a faculty breakfast twice a year at the beginning of each semester.
President, Merced College Faculty Association
We use email at Merced College. If it's something we want administration to see, we send it on the all full-time faculty link. If we want to keep things private, we email our representatives. Then they email out to their groups. This summer our MCFA webpage should be up and running for more private communications.
Looking to update your communications? Then consider:
Network with Ning.com, a free social-networking site that allows your members to discussion issues, exchange information, post announcements, blog, upload videos and photos, and share event information.
Try out Twitter, a free micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read tweets, text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length that answer the question: What are you doing right now?
Form a Facebook Group or Fan page. Facebook is proving to be a great app for cyber-organizing. Can 60 million users be wrong?
- Whip out Wordpress for a website. Wordpress.com is a free, simple, user-friendly web-based software you can use to create a dynamic chapter website that doesn't take a lot to keep up. Perfect for the union activist on the go.
Use You Tube. It wouldn't be the first time our CTA/CCA chapters were to use You Tube. It's how the Angry, Tired Teachers band of Hayward got their start, and now they're hoping for a Grammy. Upload a video to your site and watch your membership grow.