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The specter of the orange shirt.

March 20, 2012

Back in 2010 I was standing at the microphone at the IEA RA waiting for Executive Director Audrey Soglin to finish her report on PERA, the law that ties teacher evaluations to student growth scores on tests never designed for teacher evaluation.

The IEA was instrumental in writing the PERA law, which later became the basis for Senate Bill 7.

You know the story: I stood at the mic while then-President Ken Swanson called on everyone else but me. He later claimed he didn’t see me.

So that night I stopped at Target and bought the ugliest orange sweater I could find and wore it to the RA the following day.

It became a symbol for a rank-and-file member demanding to be heard.

This year at my last RA as an active teacher, members of our Region all wore orange shirts with “I’m with Fred,” printed on the back.

This morning I read this:

They said they’ve worn orange shirts on pay days for the past few months so they would look like a group when they went out afterward for happy hour, the newspaper reported. Janice Doble, 50, of Sunrise said she was looking forward to the gathering after a busy week.

“Orange happens to be my favorite color. My patio is orange,” she told the paper. “My lipstick was orange today.”

Unfortunately for Doble and 13 other employees, an executive viewed things very differently. He told them that he understood there was a protest involving orange, and because they were all wearing the color, they were fired, the Sun Sentinel reported.

One person immediately denied being part of a protest and explained the happy hour connection, but after the law firm’s honchos discussed the matter outside the room, they returned and said everyone was fired, said Lou Erik Ambert, a litigation paralegal.

“There is no office policy against wearing orange shirts. We had no warning. We got no severance, no package, no nothing,” said Ambert, 31, of Coconut Creek. “I feel so violated.”

A spokeswoman for the firm said it had “no comment at this time,” according to the Sun Sentinel.

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