Monday, September 19, 2005

On my mind, again.

What will I do if my union calls a strike?

If you belong to a union and the membership authorizes a strike: you strike. Period. That's where unions get their strength.

I need the money. I play a lot, I take trips, but I don't think I'm frivolous. And I really, really need the money.

But walking out on the kids feels like a betrayal. It may be necessary - martyrdom does no one any good - but they need us. In the classroom. Every day.

And I am in no way in an oppositional relationship to my administration. That's the other betrayal.

I am thankful for everything that unions in general and our union in particular have fought for and won in the past 50 or 100 years. And if my union were to call a strike - still a huge if - I would strike. But I just want to teach, dammit! I wish there were some other way of negotiating a fair salary, fair working hours, etc. This post will make me unpopular with some, but I feel extremely alienated from my union most of the time, as a teacher in a small school, as a teacher who doesn't feel like I am one side and the DOE/Region/School Administration are on another. I'm tired of angry rhetoric from both sides; it makes my blood pressure rise. I'm not sure unions are the answer anymore in this profession. I want to be in a partnership with the mayor to help the kids in NYC, not in perpetual conflict. I just want my salary to keep up with the cost of living around here - or better - and I'd like to be able to save a little while still enjoying the present. And most of all, I just want to be treated like a professional and to go in there everyday and do what I got into this profession to do: teach the kids.

I don't know what the solution is.

But there's a small hard knot in my stomach when I think of striking, and there's a (growing) knot in my stomach when I think of how long it is going to take for us to see any more money, even if everyone began negotiating in good faith tomorrow.


Blogger footwhere said...

Our province is on the eve of a strike vote so I feel what you're saying. I'm guessing you've already had a strike vote and have voted to strike in NYC.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Dan McDowell said...

I wish it were that easy - we are heading down that same path out here in Southern California. I want to close my door and teach. I want the district to pass on cost of living increases it gets from the state. Instead we have to fight.

Like you, I have liked my admin team for the last five years - no hard feelings there. It is the district taking the hard line against us - perhaps because we have a union (our school board is anti-union).

That knot in your stomach is what we all feel in this situation, we don't want to put the kids in the middle. They do need us. But, in the end we have to stand up for ourselves, that in itself will be lesson for our students as well - maybe an even greater one then your science class or my history class.

Good luck.

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