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Tacoma educator says her union contract provides a voice – and protection

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Shannon Ergun at 2016 WEA RA
Shannon Ergun says unions give educators a voice in their schools.

WEA Tacoma Council Vice President and WEA-PAC Manager Shannon Ergun has a plethora of experience teaching outside of Washington – she's taught in Texas, Turkey and Poland.

"I started my teaching career in Central Texas," Ergun said. "I was an outsider coming in, and it was made very clear to me early on that I didn't belong there. I had no support and no one to reach out to when I ran into problems.  

"At the end of the year, I was fired. I had no opportunity to discuss it nor was there any support from a union to aid me throughout the year. There was no process or protection for me."

Now Ergun teaches in Tacoma – and she's grateful for the strong contract Tacoma Education Association has negotiated with her district. She's even on the bargaining team this year.

"Over the years I have spent in Tacoma, I have found that I have much more voice in my working conditions, schedule, and class size than in schools where we didn't have a union and the contractual language to delineate the responsibilities of both faculty and admin. 

"Our TEA contract has language to cover how many preps I have and the number of students that can be placed in my classes. We have a school decision-making team made up predominantly of classroom educators to determine professional development opportunities, school mission, SIP plan, and building schedules. 

"In Texas, Poland and Turkey, I never had the opportunity to participate in the development of these things. Without my union, I still wouldn't."

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