So You want to be a chapter leader?

This is the first in a series of interviews about the roles of chapter leaders and delegates at schools. Chapter leader elections are coming up this Spring and are one of the most important democratic processes in our union! If you're interested in becoming a chapter leader or delegate at your school, come to one of MORE's chapter leader and delegate election workshops. The next workshop is February 15th at 7pm. Register here!

Alex Jallot is a special education teacher at Pace High School. He is finishing up his 3rd year as chapter leader. Alex is planning on running for a 2nd term in the spring.

What does being a chapter leader mean to you?

Being chapter leader means being the person my coworkers can trust to be there to support them and have their back. It means being the person that represents the interests of the rank-and-file at the school level and tries to ensure the best outcomes for the school community. 

What made you interested in running?

I was interested in running for chapter leader to continue to help building a strong chapter and be there for my colleagues. I constantly think of how I am contributing to a better work environment and how I can work together with my chapter to do so. 

What are some organizing wins for your chapter?

When I think of organizing wins for my chapter, I think of all the times we have come together as a chapter to act. I think of when my coworkers and I rallied in the cold last year before school started to demand a fair contract, the numerous actions we took to demand safer working conditions when the pandemic began, rallying together with our students for paid parental leave, and coming together to donate CAR days to a member who was in need. We have a strong, organized chapter, and we show up for each other. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming chapter leader? 

Gain the trust of your coworkers. Talk to people one to one. Hold monthly chapter meetings and bring snacks to the meetings. Also to remember that even if you’re on “good” terms with your administration that at the end of the day they are not your friend and their interests will not always align with the interests of the rank-and-file. 

What are the most important responsibilities of a CL, in your experience?

Holding monthly chapter meetings and working with others to create space for your members to be able to express themselves freely. Furthermore, building an excellent consultation committee of folks who are willing to challenge administration and ask tough questions. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced? What support did you receive?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is teaching five periods, writing IEPs, and finding time to do chapter work during the work day. I have come to strategize which responsibilities I need to prioritize and take it from there. I think the best support I’ve received is being in the Chapter Leader/Delegate chat with other chapter leaders and delegates in MORE. It’s a really helpful place to ask questions and get responses from folks who have experience. 

What are some things you wish you knew when you were running? 

I was fortunate to have a chapter leader before me who let me know in detail what the responsibilities were. That being said, it still is overwhelming at times and I definitely have to pick and choose my priorities of things to get done as a chapter leader. 

What are the rewarding aspects of being CL? 

Being a part of the growth of my chapter and helping to facilitate that growth. It’s a powerful feeling knowing that my coworkers trust me and are willing to stand together and organize to make our school community better. 

How does being CL empower you to activate and educate your coworkers?

As CL, you are the one to connect the dots at the school level to help create an atmosphere where rank and file members feel like they can trust one another and step up for each other. We use our chapter meetings to talk to one another, troubleshoot school-based problems, and think of what we can do together.