SAN ANTONIO — Artist Ashley Perez knows how vital it is to be an educator in the arts.
“Like you have to see other people doing it. You have to know there’s a possibility, especially with the arts. There are so many doubters,” Perez said.
She gets to cultivate the next generation of artists through nonprofit art organization SAY Sí.
“Art is a way of expressing your role in the community,” Perez said.
Her colleague Alex Ramirez agrees.
You see, SAY Sí rests on San Antonio’s west side in a historically impoverished barrio.
“It’s really great to come back to the West Side. Just try to make work that is indicative of the people here, of the ideals here, the goodness here on the West Side,” Ramirez said.
Both Perez and Ramirez say the nonprofit sector can be demanding.
“You are going to work hard, you are going to love what you do, but you are going to become burnt out,” Perez said.
According to a national study, 30% of nonprofit employees are burnt out and an additional 20% are in danger of burning out.
Ramirez and Perez say this ultimately affects the kids they are helping, so a majority of SAY Sí employees unionized.
“We wanted to build a more equitable workplace, we wanted more say in the direction of SAY Sí, this organization we love so much,” Ramirez said.
They also want more competitive wages for the employees.
SAY Sí said in a statement that it fully supports staff’s right to organize. It also added that they proceed with a secret ballot election governed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB.)
“The process of unionizing can be disheartening at times, especially when we are at a place where current leadership wants us to file for an election as opposed to recognizing our union straight out,” Ramirez said.
They say it’s the support of the community that fuels them.
“It feels really good. It lets us know we are not alone in this struggle,” Ramirez said.