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OEA’s Union School’s Powerful Locals Program

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These are challenging times for education professionals and our local associations.  There are fewer resources, more expectations and more problematic regulations facing our public schools and community colleges.  The result: overworked teachers, faculty and support professionals facing overcrowded classrooms, unmanageable caseloads and the stress associated with trying to meet student needs. Local associations in both K-12 and Community Colleges are faced with continual bargaining with underfunded school districts and colleges. Local union leaders find fewer members actively involved in local union activities.

The Powerful Locals program, an initiative of OEA’s Strategic Action Program, is now beginning a new program year.  In 2012-13, the Powerful Locals program worked with 16 locals to create new statements of principles for locals, develop strategic goals, assessed resources necessary to execute those goals and worked with Locals on the critical follow-up.

As with the pilot year, OEA’s Powerful Locals program will provide training, support and collaboration to help locals develop effective strategies to overcome their challenges.  The program is designed to assist each local leadership team in finding the best mix of education, training, and strategy that will help transform the locals into what they believe is a more strategic, powerful, member-driven union.

The commitment to be part of the Powerful Locals Program

Commitment to the program:

Leaders will be expected to review the process and be clear on the specifics of the commitment. Signing the commitment form indicates an understanding of the process. It is important to have both the president and consultant review this program before signing.

The Commitment:
Recruit a Strategic Action Team:

Local leadership will need to recruit a committed team of members willing to dedicate time and energy to the full strategic action process.

Participate in the Powerful Local Gatherings

Local teams will need to attend 2 meetings (evening and full day) with the purpose of bringing all Powerful Local teams together to share ideas and strategies and attend workshops and trainings.

Follow-up in Preparation for your Retreat:

Team members will be expected to do the following homework in preparation for their retreat.  This home work will be reviewed at our first gathering.

  1. Information compiled by your local on leadership assessment.
  2. Information on upcoming school board elections, bond measures and other relevant political activities in your community.
  3. Information on any upcoming bargaining with the district
  4. Community partnership information from Executive board
  5. Communication Check list filled out

Plan and Conduct a Local Strategic Action Retreat:

Local teams will meet, working with their consultants, member cadres and Union School staff to discuss and write a new statement of purpose, have an in-depth discussion about the challenges the local faces, analyze the local’s strengths and weaknesses, build a consensus on the primary/priority challenges for the next year and create strategic goals and a plan to respond to those challenges.  Members typically meet for a late afternoon and evening plus a full day.  We are very flexible on how members want to construct the time.  We have a certain amount of hours necessary to accomplish our retreat goals. The Union School pays for release time and all expenses related to the retreat.  (Reimbursements are disbursed according to OEA policy)

Follow-up and Next Steps:

Teams will meet with Union School staff or Powerful Local Cadres to evaluate progress of next steps, progress and use of assessment tools.  Communications between staff and key leaders will be set-up on a monthly basis. 


The Union School’s Admin Assistant, Kaye Grensky works with the president or their designee to find a place for the retreat, catering and any other logistical needs.  She also handles all necessary paper work with sub/release time.

What your Local can expect from the Union school once you became part of the Powerful Local’s program.

The primary focus of OEA’s Powerful Local’s Pilot Program is leadership development, leadership team building and developing strategies for increased member engagement and activism to build a more powerful local. Team members will receive education and training on the essential skills and tools of effective leadership, strategic planning and organizing. The Union School acts as a conduit to the resources available at OEA including expertise and direct organizing support from our state-wide organizing staff.

Locals teams who participate can expect to:

  • Effectively assess, respond to changes and challenges faced by locals internally and externally.
  • Recruit and engage new leaders
  • Better communication and engagement with members
  • Create a local Strategic Action Plan
  • Develop skills to reach out and engage the community
  • Develop a foundation of activism and hope

OEA will support all aspects of the Powerful Locals programs including:

  • Schedule and funding of all activities related to program as mutually agreed upon between the Union School and Leadership
  • Provide all written and electronic materials
  • Facilitate and train for all retreats, workshops, and gatherings
  • Provide resources for follow-up
  • Buy time for execution of goals

Download the Commitment Form here.