Two decades dedication to Union work

My father was a strong influence on me. He lived through the depression and saw men begging in the streets for jobs and understood the benefits of collective bargaining.

With 20 years experience in the role, Mike Cusack knows a thing or two about being an IEU Rep.

Mike came to teaching late, having worked as an accountant (which he hated) managed his own milk run and a paving and landscaping business.

He started his teaching career aged 40 and after a stint at St Thomas Boys School in Lewisham, moved to Northholm Grammar School in Arcadia in Sydney’s North West and has been there for 29 years.

Initially employed as a science teacher, he quickly moved into IT teaching.

“It has always been a strong interest. When computers started coming into schools around 1989 no one seemed too interested so I put my hand up. I started teaching an introductory class to Year 7 before the Board had developed courses. My role evolved from there,” Mike said.

“It’s been an amazing ride going from a few Apple 2s in a classroom to Wi-Fi access for all students anywhere in the school.”

Soon after he started at Northolm, Mike became the IEU Rep.

“My father was a strong influence on me. He was born in 1896 and worked as a boilermaker and fitter and turner. He was in the metalworkers’ union and lived through the depression.”

“He saw men begging in the streets for jobs and understood the benefitsof collective bargaining. He gave me a strong sense of justice and the need for people to be treated fairly.”

“To me union membership is not a political issue, it’s about improving and maintaining working conditions and making sure agreements are adhered to.”

The recent MEA negotiations with the AIS have probably been the most difficult that Mike has experienced in his 20 years as Rep.

“I did the analysis and told staff we were being handed a pup. It has made some of the younger teachers understand the importance of being in the Union.”

Mike’s top tips for Reps
All issues are important, no matter how trivial they may appear.
Be a good listener – find out all the facts.
Know what is and isn’t a Union matter – don’t get involved in non-Union issues.
Nothing is personal – don’t be frightened of stating the facts to anybody, including the principal.
Know the terms of the agreement inside out. If you are unsure consult your Union organiser.
Maintain confidentiality at all times – no gossip.
Sue Osborne