Today, I want to begin this column by expressing my appreciation for all our outstanding local education association presidents who have been tasked with representing their local members’ interests as school boards and administrators developed plans on reopening schools.

ND United members are universally awesome people, but they are not monolithic in their approach to reopening schools.  In short, our members have expressed a variety of opinions regarding face-to-face instruction versus hybrid instruction versus all distance learning.

These competing viewpoints, and their often-passionate expression, have left many local presidents in a tenuous position as they advocate for our colleagues’ and our students’ safe return to teaching and learning.  We all understand how polarized and bitter our discourse can be, particularly with an impending election.  I would ask that we treat one another with grace and respect as we work toward a mutually satisfying solution to our challenges.

I want to extend my most sincere gratitude to all of ND United’s fabulous Building Representatives (BRs).  These folks are selfless advocates for their union and do the important work of answering questions, identifying potential members and promoting the values and priorities of ND United to members and potential members alike.  They are unsung heroes, in my view, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Additionally, I want to thank the staff at North Dakota United.  Their work includes providing top-notch professional development, helping locals optimize internal and external communications, keeping our finances in great shape, helping locals with membership, conducting retirement seminars, advocating for our members, building bridges to the communities we serve, keeping schedules, paying bills, and working directly with our locals to help them succeed and grow their membership.

We do not have the largest staff, but we have a staff that works smarter than any other.  They are a team that believes deeply in our core values and works tirelessly to make ours a more perfect union.

Finally, I would like to thank each of you, our ND United family.  The great work that you do in service to students, the public, our university communities and others inspires me every day.  The people we serve have come to expect excellence and efficiency from you in the performance of your jobs.  I am proud to say that you do not disappoint.  Please know that your work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

You are the best!

Thank you all for standing united and for your outstanding service to our state!

Be well, stay safe, and #MaskUpNDUNITED!