1. No boys in your room
2. Never Cross a Picket Line
Those are two of mom and dad’s many rules that I remember clearly. I was reminded of the latter because of the protest in Wisconsin against Governor Walker’s legislation.
Dad, although now retired, was and always will be a staunch union man. When my mom’s union went on strike for six months, he took a second job to cover the loss of income. When his union was on strike, he would picket during the day and work another job at night. Nothing worse than being a scab. If he saw the union workers at the Safeway grocery store were picketing, we would drive to another chain’s store. Thanks to his union benefits, he is living on his hard-earned pension and has 100% health care coverage for himself and my mom for the rest of their lives.
So many hard working, God-fearing, blue collar workers are union members, like my dad. Unions are a big part of our country’s history. Better working conditions, hours, and wages were issues addressed by unions. When you have concerns about your job, they may hear you. When hundreds of you voice your concerns, united, they can’t help but hear you. Unions remind companies that they can not exist without workers.
As a former sub, the hatred of the teacher’s unions pisses me off. Teachers demanding higher pay, decent benefits and tenure? The nerve!
Over half of teachers quit within the first five years of teaching. I don’t blame them. The pay sucks, administration doesn’t help or back you, and the kids themselves can drive you insane. I worked as a sub and was contemplating a teaching career. I passed the first of three competency exams to enter a program. As a sub, I was able to continue studying for the other exams and teach summer school and get long-term assignments.
I loved and hated it. My stress level was through the roof. At the beginning of an 8th grade summer school English class, I was ready to pull my hair out. It was a hard summer. On the last day, I had kids writing on the boards, We’ll miss you Miss S. Some drew me pictures – the same kids who I believed were put on this earth just to drive me crazy.
After two and a half years of that, the great, motivating days like that last day of summer school were few and far between. The constant disrespect and stress brought on by student’s who couldn’t care less that you were up there trying to teach them something was daily. I walked away.
I believe unions are important for teacher retention. It can also attract people to the profession. Fighting for their own pay and benefits not only helps them, but newbies too. It gives them more incentive to stay. A good benefits package just may entice talented people into the profession.
Governor Walker has declared war on the unions. He wants to make them contribute more to their pensions and health care. For one teacher featured in the article, that means losing $5K per year because of these higher contributions. To make everyone understand just how clearly he hates unions, he proposes stripping them of their collective bargaining power. Silencing them.
I’m glad they’re making themselves heard by protesting at the capitol and by staging sick-ins. They are responsible for educating our kids. Since their pay sucks, the least we can do is make sure we take care of most of their pensions and health care. I’m behind you, Wisconsin school teachers (and prison guards). Don’t let Governor Walker and the GOP thugs win.