Union Representative Dons Another Cap: School Board Member

As if this hard-charging union organizer and negotiator didn’t have enough on his plate, Jonathan T. Wright, Local 21's lead staff representative in Contra Costa County, is taking on another responsibility: school board member. On Feb. 1, the married, 35-year-old Wright was sworn in as the newest member of the Martinez Unified School District Board. In some ways it’s a post Wright has been groomed for his entire life. Both his parents are retired educators from the Mount Diablo Unified School District. But after moving to Martinez from Concord in August 2014, his interest in getting more involved with his adopted hometown was piqued after taking in the annual Alhambra Homecoming Parade. Wright and his wife were stunned at the turnout, with students from the elementary and middle schools all joining in the celebration.“ That blew us away, seeing how integral the high school is to everyday life in Martinez,” Wright told a local newspaper. “It was one of those defining moments in my life where we knew we had come to the right place, and I want to do everything I can to honor that.” A union organizer and negotiator with more than 15 years of professional experience, Wright will serve out the unexpired term of a board member who resigned in December. The term ends in November at which time Wright will have to run in an election to keep the seat. 

Wright was up against seven other candidates, including former school board trustees. But after interviews, Wright garnered six of the possible 12 votes cast by the four remaining board members.“I think the board made an excellent choice,” Martinez Superintendent of Schools Rami Muth said after the vote. “Jonathan was articulate, well versed on the issues facing Martinez schools, and someone who seems passionate about ensuring all students receive a high quality education. I am looking forward to working with him.” Wright’s union turf covers roughly 1,000 Local 21 members. In conjunction with top-notch member leadership, Wright led recent healthcare negotiations that resulted in a reduction of out-of-pocket expenses for the first time in years, and has held the county accountable for violations of not only the Local 21 contract, but California labor law as well. Wright’s new school board post dovetails nicely with his personal ambitions. “I don’t have kids, but I’m planning on starting a family very soon and want my kids to attend quality, neighborhood-oriented schools,” he said.