One of the many aspects of this job that no one really discusses before you get hired is the fact that many of us are in unions. We pay union fees, have the benefit of union representation if there are issues with your performance, and negotiate for pay increases through the union.
Over the last nine years I have been teaching, we have had several situations that required the union to actively fight a school board or superintendent for stability, cost of living increases, etc. This year is proving to be the most contentious yet. Conflicting information is constantly being thrown back and forth. Teachers are talking that the distance between the two sides has never been bigger. We have picketed a board meeting and the school. It has been ugly. And, unfortunately, I think it is only going to get uglier. Fear is in the air, potential layoffs have been announced, seniority is being determined. Simply writing this makes me a little nervous (and one of the reasons I moved this blog).
What I have noticed over the years though, is each time this happens, we see a coming together that doesn’t otherwise seem to exist among teachers. Yes, we share a district, a school, even students in some cases, but we rarely carry the same greater cause (above and beyond the incredible cause of preparing our students for life after high school, of course). When over 400 teachers (of about 1100) picketed a board meeting last month, I felt the same kind of energy I experienced in college at various protests. However, this time the stakes are much more real. I have a family and a mortgage.
I wonder what the community thinks? Are we greedy for wanting a cost of living increase? Do they sympathize? What story will they believe? Does it matter?