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View Diary: In defense of 20-something progressive bloggers like myself (132 comments)

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  •  As a retired educator (8+ / 0-)

    I was well aware of the union movement, even before I began teaching and became a member of my local, state and national unions.    
    Neither of my parents were in unions.  My dad was a cop (at a time when their pay was as low as teachers).  My mom worked in a textile factory and was a child laborer.  She remembered the violence of people trying to organize.  She and her fellow workers tried organizing in the 1950s and then the textile mill left and move to the south.
    Whenever I see the movie "Norma Rae" I think of my mother.

    But almost everyone else in our town was union.  So I knew what it was and why it was important.  Compared to our family, the union families seemed to do better.  It was reality.

    I never heard bad mouthing of union.  Almost all the men on my street (with my dad being the exception) worked in the Steel Mill or at the tire factory.  A few worked at the pipe fitting plant.   All the moms worked in factories of some kind....from pill packaging to textiles.
    And all the men were veterans of WWII

    Then I went to college in middle PA.  As I made friends there and learned about their families, I realize how different our lives were despite less than 60 miles in distance.  None of my college friends had fathers who had been to war.  Most of their fathers had gone to college too and were principals or business men.  None of their mothers worked when they were growing up.  They were clueless about unions, ethnic neighborhoods, and the war,  This was in the middle sixties.

    But all of them became teachers like me and all eventually became union members themselves because as private sector unions were dying, public employee unions were just starting to grow.  Or so I thought.  In the early 70s I moved to CO and realized how anti union parts of the southwest are. I am not sure why.  CO certainly has a history of strong unions and having to fight the mine owners.  
    But so many here acted like people like me, from the east, with a funny sounding name, were part of unions that were all run by the mafia.  The amount of ignorance I encountered stunned me.  Only 60% of the teachers belonged to the union here while when I was in PA almost 100% teachers in the districts where I and my friends taught were in  the union.  
    My sister was a nurse and they were not unionized back then.   Her kids, in their 30s, are clearly ignorant of the history of unions and one is totally anti union.

    I don't know how we fix it.  But I do believe young people have to get themselves educated about this.  And I believe their source has to be us old folks.   While teachers' unions did grow stronger, I do not believe we have ever had enough clout to affect textbook publishers.  As long as TX and CA have so much buying power, they will dominate in influence.

    •  I grew up in a strong union town and I remember (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925

      when the teacher's union first voted to strike many years ago.  The school board gave in very fast as they must have quickly realized that very few parents were going to send a kid across a picket line.

    •  Colorado in the 1970's.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Knight, Dave925, YucatanMan

      That's interesting because the first time I ever heard the word "liberal" spat out as an epithet was in Colorado Springs in 1985. Nowadays, James Dobson has a huge compound outside the USAF Academy but I don't think it was there during my time at the Academy.

      I guess it was just a creeping grass roots soft of virus (mental virus, this longing for the Dark Ages) that was in the Southwest before us liberals became aware of its scope.

      By the way, my experience of the USAF was that is was stacked with southern, redneck, fundamentalists and not overly concerned with basic human rights and Constitutional principles.

      Reaganomics: The belief that: 1) Unregulated capitalism can produce unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources; 2) We can increase revenue by decreasing revenue.

      by FrY10cK on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:13:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I live in the Springs and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrY10cK

        I honestly had no idea of the politics when I moved here in my 20s.  I was young and wanted to live in the west because it was so romanticized in the westerns I watched as a child.
        The Cartwrights (for you young ones, they were the family of the show Bonanza) were always defending the poor, the native Americans, freed slaves and immigrants.  My naivete was absolute.

        Anyway, it was not all that extreme and I was here in 1975 when we, the teachers, went on strike against the board trying to do then what Scott Walker has done in WI.....end collective bargaining.  It shocks people to know that the teachers in CO Springs succeeded in fighting for and keeping our collective bargaining and master agreement.    But by the mid 80s, after the election of RR which depressed me as I knew where we were headed,  parents started showing up in our schools (sent out by Dobson and FoF) demanding we teach creationism, and end all Halloween stuff in the schools.  
        I had one parent accuse me of teaching "Witchery" when I was doing a creative writing assignment with a Halloween theme.  Another parent told me that unless I started teaching Christianity along side Maya history, her child could not/would not do assignments related to Mayan hieroglyphs.   Try explaining to ignorant bigots how the Mayan governing body, like most of that time period, including most of Europe, ran theocracies.  The Papacy had much power over the governments of Europe and the high priests ran the Mayan civilization.  If I was teaching middle/dark ages Europe, Christianity would be a big part of it.  She stared at me blankly and insisted her son's plaster of Paris glyph was not to show any Mayan representations but instead would be a cross.  
        I said, "Fine..."  And I gave him credit.  Was not going to punish a child because his parent was ignorant.

        But the Springs has gotten worse.  A beautiful city with a backwards mentality ruling.

        Honestly I am still shocked that we pulled it off with only 50% of the teachers striking.  So many of the teachers here believed the anti union spin.  Coors beer was busing down employees with college degrees and giving the a free day off, full pay to sub in the schools.  I still will not allow Coors beer in my home.  The right wing rag here distorted everything and it was the two weeks before Christmas, during an unusually snowy year.  Watching the WI teachers this winter reminded me of the hours on the picket line, cold and angry. I was living with two other young single teachers then.  Not one of the three of us had tenure and were risking our jobs, and all three of us had to borrow to pay the rent since we lost two weeks of our meager pay check.
        But we believed in what we were doing.  We knew if we lost the right to bargain, we were setting all teachers up to be at the mercy of any administrator even if they were an incompetent, sexist idiot.  

        Sometimes you just have to take a risk and do the right thing.  I am sure if in the 80s when Dobson's minions were en masse demanding creationism be taught along side of evolution in science, some would not have resisted without the union backing us up.  I know when it was brought up at a science curriculum meeting to add it in, 90% of us said NO WAY because our union had our backs.

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