The United Labor Agency (ULA) is a community service agency committed to strengthening our communities by focusing resources, compassion, and commitment toward the labor movement. Through their Employment Services and Business Services they have assisted hundreds of dislocated and unemployed persons find employment with a livable wage. The ULA is active primarily in Lake, Geauga, and Cuyahoga Counties. Each year their Annual Dinner honors “Unsung Heroes of the Labor Movement.” Several volunteers from local unions were recognized on November 18.
NEOEA’s honoree was Karen Winston from the East Cleveland Education Association (ECEA). Karen was nominated by fellow union colleague Dawn Magnasco. Karen has been involved in union activities for ECEA since her first year as a teacher in the district. She serves as a building representative and is a member of several local committees. Typically, Karen is among the first to volunteer her talents and time to collaborate within the school district.
At the NEOEA and OEA level, Karen has been a delegate to the Representative Assemblies for several years. She stays current on education policy by attending training at the Summer Leadership Academy, NEOEA Day, and Megaconference. Karen serves on the NEOEA Board of Directors as the Minority Representative-at-large. She was a member of the Educators Standards Board, where she also chaired the committee. Dawn noted in her letter of nomination, “Her commitment to public education is unparalleled.”
In her own community, Karen attends school board meetings and canvasses neighborhoods in support of education-friendly policies and political candidates. She is active in the “Heights Coalition for Public Education” and she sits on the board of “Reaching Heights,” a non-profit organization that mobilizes community resources to support public schools in the community. She has been called on to present in support of school levies, closing the achievement gap, special education, reformed testing for all children, the arts, and parent engagement.
Karen noted in her acceptance remarks, I cannot help but comment about my union roots this evening. You see, I am a fifth generation union member. Most of my family members belong to the United Automobile Workers (UAW) or the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. My dad is a retired UAW member from the General Motors Parma Plant. I grew up in the Fisher-Body Plant neighborhood of Collinwood, in the city of Cleveland. So the common thread on my street was being in a union family. The thought of being a fair-share member never crossed my mind, unless I planned to find a new family to spend my holidays with!
Consider nominating a member of your own local next year for this prestigious honor as ULA’s Unsung Hero.