50 Years Strong

On January 1st 1968, the Jefferson County Education Association won its first binding negotiated agreement with Jefferson County Public Schools. This marked the beginning of 50 years of protecting teacher voice, educator empowerment, and collective strength. This was the beginning of our union.

It all began in 1958, when a small group of rabble-rouser educators gathered to unofficially begin a small teachers’ association that would fight for a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teachers’ rights, and teachers’ voice. For the next ten years, this small but tenacious group organized and fought for their ultimate goal of being full partners with Jefferson County Public Schools and a CBA.

Early on, this group realized that if they wanted to win a CBA, they were going to need help. That help came when Jeffco’s first teachers’ association reached out to the National Education Association (NEA). In August 1960, NEA recognized Jeffco’s unnamed teachers’ association by granting them a Charter of Affiliation, and Jefferson County’s first nationally recognizable teachers’ union was born. The original name of this association was, R-1 Education Association of Jefferson County.

In 1966, as R-1 EA organized and grew its membership with the help and resources of NEA. Teachers became emboldened to use their collective power to take on the Jefferson County School Board and demand the things that the small group of “troublemakers” had only dreamed about 10 years before: a contract.

In 1967, Gene Layman, the first president of JCEA, transformed the organization into a nationally recognized fighting group of people that was ready to take on the Jeffco School Board. Gene and R-1 EA believed they needed to reorganize and get their house in order if they were going to be successful. In April of 1968, R-1 EA officially changed their name to Jefferson County Education Association, elected an all new executive team and hired their first full time executive director, Tony Sternola. With new leadership and a full time executive director, 1968 was shaping up be the year JCEA members would fight for their first contract.

To be continued…

Are you ready to stand up and make our union stronger for the next 50 years? Join JCEA!