I Have Your Back


by Nelly Henjes, PESPA President

As President of the Pinellas Educational Support Professionals, I earn the same pay as any other Child Development Associate in the District. I am proud to be an educator and a support professional. Our work makes a difference in the lives of our students.

The job of President is not a 37.5 hour work week position and weekends and evenings are not always untouched by work but I know and love the people I represent and I want them to feel that I have their back. It is an honor to represent them at the bargaining table. I push for a higher wage because I understand just how far my own paycheck goes after insurance and taxes are deducted. I work with PCTA and SEIU to keep our family insurance intact and affordable. No PESPA member will ever be denied representation on my watch because, I have their back!

I am currently working with the District to revisit job descriptions that are out of date because the job has evolved with the times. We are doing more for less and we will look at all the positions as it was the PESPA bargaining team’s desire to do so. The Certificate of Distinction l & ll are ways our members are honored and we will work with the District to make a Certificate of Distinction lll happen. I do my best to bring respect to Support Professionals because they deserve it, because they elected me, and because I have their back.

We are currently in the fight for our lives. Charter School Advocates look to destroy public education by having Tallahassee starve us economically. A bill is being crafted as I write this (HB 25) that seeks to decertify any unions with less than 50% membership. Right now PESPA is below that threshold and if that comes to be a law, we will not be able to have your back anymore. Displaced employees will become laid-off employees because there won’t be a contract to compel the District to place them somewhere else. Raises will be take it or leave it and we stand to lose all the contractual rights we currently have. ( see the PESPA contract on this website)

It is time to stand up for ourselves as professionals. We need potential members to understand that they are weak without PESPA. They need to do their part to make us strong enough to defeat our enemies and protect our rights. I have your back always but I am but one person. We need an army of Support Professionals that value their job enough to join together and make our professional organization strong and vibrant.

I have always had your back! Now it’s time for us all to have each other’s back.

In Solidarity,
Nelly Henjes
PESPA President