WEA's Education Support Professionals (ESP) are the approximately 12,000 support employees who work for the public schools in Washington. Our membership consists of secretaries, para-educators, food service personnel, custodians, bus drivers, maintenance employees, mechanics, nurses, early childhood educators, security personnel, coaches and other school employees who supervise extracurricular activities and who work to make Washington's schools safe, efficient and healthy for Washington's students.
The Educational Family: The Washington Education Association believes that all employees who work within the public schools, including ESP, make up a family of educators dedicated to making Washington's schools the best they can be. Often an ESP member is the first to greet your child in the morning or the last to say good-bye to them in the afternoon. All during the student's day and into the evening, ESPs are working -- sometimes visibly, sometimes not so visibly -- to make the educational process effective for everybody.
Voting Rights: ESP members are full, active, voting members of the WEA and participate in all activities of the over 82,000 member organization...from the largest to the smallest local unit. Our ESP members are also full voting members of the and participate in all activities and levels of the parent organization in Washington, D.C. The ESP national membership is 510,388!
State Structure: ESP local units and local UniServ Councils are the primary structures for ESP. The WEA / ESP Action Coordinating Team -- referred to as the ACT -- serves as a steering committee comprised of ESP leaders elected from all councils. The ACT works to address issues unique to the ESP members statewide. Click here to find your ACT representative!
Bargaining: ESP members are able to collectively bargain under Washington's Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act (Revised Code of Washington 41.56). RCW 41.56 predates the bargaining statute for teachers by 10 years. Most ESP units are also organized into bargaining units and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with their local school boards. The bargaining statute allows ESP to bargain wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment. Some local ESP units bargain along with teachers in the district and have separate collective bargaining agreements. One bargaining team in these units negotiates both the ESP and the teacher contracts at the same time. This process, called unified bargaining, is a goal for all ESP and teacher units of the Washington Education Association.
Local Structure: There are 113 ESP units in Washington. There may be more than one local ESP unit within the same school district. For example, in the Kent School District there is one unit of para-educators, another unit for Head Start employees, a third unit for early childhood education employees and a fourth unit of coaches. Although the highest number of units are found in the Puget Sound area, ESP members and units are found geographically throughout Washington.
Some ESP members, such as those in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Mercer Island are full voting members of the local education association and do not have separate local units - referred to as "wall-to-wall" units. Most of the ESP members are organized into local ESP units and receive service from their local or adjacent UniServ Council. Local ESP units have their own set of officers, bylaws and constitutions.
Watch for events and meeting dates on the calendar section on the WEA home page, and ask your local president about the bi-weekly e-mail from WEA called "The Edge" which also announces ESP conferences and events.
WEA ESP Issues Conference: The ESP ACT (Action Coordinating Team) sponsors at least one conference each year.
NEA Annual ESP Conference: The National Education Association holds an annual conference for ESP members.
WEA's ESP Employee of the Year: Each year, the WEA awards program honors an ESP member who is nominated by their peers. The recipient is also WEA's nominee for NEA's ESP of the Year award. The award recognizes outstanding work with the local, state and national organizations, outstanding work for schools districts and outstanding contributions with the community. Submission deadline is usually mid-February. Click here to see the nomination form.