The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Scenes from a Strike– Day 1

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The strike became a reality this morning at 6am when the district auto-dialer my rang my number.  The superintendent’s voice came across the speaker and announced that due to failed contract negotiations, school would be closed.  I could take you through the issues step-by-step, but I’m tired from picketing all day.  Check out this video clip from a regional news broadcast; it nails the issues at stake pretty evenly:

Zion-Benton district teachers on strike

My feet were on the ground at 7:10am, which is about 20 minutes earlier that I usually show up for work.  I was anticipating warmer weather throughout the day, so had dressed a little lighter than I wish I had.  Still, a t-shirt, flannel shirt, squall jacket, stocking cap, and a double-layer of thin gloves was enough to hold off the 24-degree chill.

I stationed myself at the main entrance to the school, along with about 15 other teachers.  We deliberately paced back and forth, having been informed that we shouldn’t be standing but rather walking, and that if we were walking everything was okay.  There just wasn’t any hurry to get anywhere.  Also, since we were technically crossing the street, we had to touch the curb on both sides.

A cop rolled down the driveway at 7:30 and demanded that we stay off the sidewalks and crosswalks.  Instead we were supposed to stand behind barriers about 40 feet up on the front lawn of the school.  She also told us to stop blocking cars from entering or leaving.  This was the first major tension of the day:  The sidewalks and crosswalks are public and we have every right to walk on them for as long as we wish.  Several of us shouted such to her, and informed her that nobody had been blocked entering or leaving–the driver she had seen leaving just one minute previous stopped voluntarily, rolled down her window, and was asking us questions.  We didn’t mention that she sounded very supportive.  None of us moved.  I kept pacing, thinking to myself that even if nobody else keeps crossing and recrossing, that I was going to.  I started to wonder what cold metal was going to feel like around my wrists, and was ready for it.

Two more cops showed up to form a constabulatory huddle and discuss who knows what.  We kept moving.  Nothing else was said.

The sun broke out in the open by 7:40, and things began to warm up.  By the end of the day, it was 45 degrees, bright and sunny.  Despite that, my nose was red and drippy throughout.

We received an incredible amount of support from the community today.  There were at least a dozen students picketing with us, plus numerous other local union representatives stopped by to walk with us, chat for a few minutes, and let us know they were behind us all the way.  People showed up unexpectedly with cases of water, boxes of coffee, donuts, candy, and words of encouragement.

I wish I could say that everybody we saw today was hospitable and encouraging.  We had several flare-ups of jackass behavior from angry residents.  One woman sped past the school, hung her head out the window, and screamed that we were crazy and that we needed to get back to work.  An old man slowed his truck at the west entrance to the school at 2pm and screamed, “Get back in there and get to work!”  I don’t think he took out repeated responses of “Thank you!  Have a nice day!” as sincere.  There was a group of six community members across the street from us early this morning, protesting the strike.  They lasted about a half hour.

We were mooned by somebody around noon.  I wasn’t sure if it was a show of support or dissention.

I got home at 3:45.  My legs were cramped; dead.  I slept for almost three hours on the futon.

The auto-dialer called at 7:30 this evening.  We’re back on the picket line tomorrow.

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Written by seeker70

January 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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