In your original blog, that Fred linked above, you write: “I really don’t know what else to say at this point. I suppose we can’t expect anything from anyone during an election year, that’s the lesson. But all I know is that there are still children and communities suffering out there and, from an outsider, all I saw the NEA doing was sitting on their asses and passing resolutions. Very quaint, oh so democratic, and weak.”
I am floored. Really.
OK… so I will admit, like Fred, I am an unabashed cheerleader for our union. Unlike Fred, I have only been at this union thing for a few years. My first decade and a half of teaching, my union was simply a safety net. To say that I was ‘un-involved’ with the daily workings of my union is an understatement. As I became more involved with activism and took it online, I heard many bashing my union… calling my leaders “thugs”. So, I decided to check it out. I went to a union Rep meeting.
I expected it to be like our Chamber of Commerce – fancy, catered… It was not. In fact, I sat in the large room that looked like a warehouse, on a metal chair, staring up at a decaying ceiling and a lone pic of Martin Luther King, Jr… wondering. Wondering where are all the thugs? Wondering what kind of building I was in…
I learned many things since that night. I learned, from the shaking of the metal wall behind me each time a plane passed, that my union hall was an old plane hanger. I learned that the ‘thugs’ were all plain old folks, like me, dedicated to teaching and fighting for the future of public ed. I learned that they were ready and willing to help my grassroots campaigns. I learned that together, we accomplished more.
I also learned that there are many unions out there, just like my own. I visited firefighters and other public workers, councils… anything meeting that I could. And as I sit in each hall, whether a plane hanger or an old fire station… I realize that I am not alone. There are others out there who are also fighting for democracy, public schools, due process, equal education, social justice. They sit in halls and garages all over our nation, together.
I also learned this: The one hour that they sat on those metal chairs at that Rep meeting, for many, was the only hour that they sat, all day.
So, Chalk, with respect, for you or for anyone to say that our NEA sits on their asses is laughable, and offensive. My NEA, because my NEA is me, and Fred, and countless others… My NEA are working their asses off.
And, I thank them… and, Fred for the coffee.