Shane Gordon loves this declaration by Martin Luther King, celebrated as a mantra by his association President, Mandy Wells — “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
He is passionate about eliminating racism and supporting students with disability. “I firmly believe that school funding should be based on actual need,” he said. “I’m a committed Gonski campaigner."
Now in his third year as Fed Rep at Cabramatta West Public, he has no doubt about why strong and committed unionist leaders are needed in schools.
“The Fed Rep can be a powerful ally during negotiations,” he said. “We can provide independent and impartial support, drawing on our knowledge of the industrial agreement.
“The Fed Rep is an intermediary between Federation and school-based members. We disseminate information from Federation and are often the first contact when issues arise. We might be able to address members’ concerns at an early stage before they become bigger problems and/or direct their queries to the best contact point. Conversely, it is often the Fed Rep who brings school-based issues to Federation’s attention at association meetings or Council.
“I am proud of keeping the lines of communication open. I have regular meetings with my principal to ensure Federation and the Department underpin all matters of school life.”
He advises those putting feelers out to a Fed Rep role to join their school workplace committee, attend local association meetings, talk with their Organiser, attend Council as an observer and take up Trade Union Training.
“Trade Union Training has prepared me well if major issues should arise,” he said.
“This training was the real clincher. It given me skills to carry out the role effectively and really opened my eyes to the inner workings of the Federation and what collective strength can achieve. I value being part of a group with common goals, working towards something bigger than all of us.”
Mr Gordon, who is also Councillor and Vice President of the Fairfield Association, doesn’t get release time for Fed Rep duties but has a supportive principal at Cabramatta West and also the help of Women’s Contact Tracey Wiffin and Gonski Contact Damien Case. “The rest of the school membership is also very responsive and is always willing to come together and share the load when required,” he said.
He loves the camaraderie of the union. “I really enjoy attending my local Association meetings and Branch Council,” he said. “There is a sociability to union life in the workplace and TA socials and meetings.” He’s an avid reader and is continually browsing the Federation Library site. He takes the load off his teacher-feet by spending time with his family.
Mr Gordon finds Indonesia fascinating and is taking a Diploma of Languages (Indonesian) through Charles Darwin University. He returned from South Sulawesi this month and plans a trip to West Java in October.
— with Dinoo Kelleghan