The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Scenes From a Strike– Day 2

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It was 41° this morning when my feet hit the ground, and it didn’t get much warmer for a few hours, even when the sun was finally loosed into the vast blue corral overhead.  There was a steady wind out of the west that pushed clouds around throughout the day, and thus the sun was hazier than yesterday, though still substantial.  My nose ran for most of the day, even though it reached 50° by 12:30.

We had a strong showing by both retirees and students.  There were no less than two dozen students out with us most of the day, and most of them were fresh faces that weren’t around yesterday.  The retired football coach was out today, too.  He provides a substantial physical presence, and is also a member of the community and staunch supporter of our cause.  I couldn’t help but feel some sense of reassurance when he told us he had called board members and even tried to enter the school to talk with people.

I’ve been awed by the support we’ve received all around.  What’s more, I can’t complain about how we’ve been treated–I never expected to be so well-fed! Not only did we have a decent supply of food from within our ranks, but outside food came in a steady flow throughout the day. Somebody from Rhode Island called in a massive pizza delivery for us by way of a pizza place in a neighboring suburb. Students prepared sweets and brought them to us. Water continues to be delivered, along with coffee and donuts. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up gaining weight.

Support from a parent.

Today I learned that it’s hard as hell to stand for long periods of time.  Two hours in this morning, and my lower back was tired.  It usually manifests itself that way through numbness and a bit of achy crampiness.  What worries me most is that I’m at a peak level of fitness in my life, and I’m feeling the physical effects early on in the strike.  I don’t know how others are handling it.  If it’s any comfort, it will be different if we’re still on strike come Monday.  We won’t be spending the entire day, but are expected to work at least a two-hour shift.

Walking eases the crampiness and restores the feeling in my back.  That’s the primary benefit–the secondary is that I can walk station-to-station and see what’s up elsewhere along the picket.  I’ve spent quality time talking with colleagues who I never see and would otherwise never have time to say anything to, much other than “Hello” or “Good morning.”  That’s an odd circumstance with teaching:  We can be quite tribal, but not necessarily by choice.  Each subject area has its own mindset.  Science and math can be very analytical, even black and white in terms of how they see things.  Social studies can be political.  English, of course, is very literary and intellectual.  Those cognitive bonds keeps us together and enrich us, no different than a group of friends who loves NASCAR or Dungeons and Dragons.  Furthermore, each department has its own office, and our classrooms are clustered together.  Hence, we see the most of others in our department, and tribalism results.  Given this, if the Board of Education wants to fracture our unity, keeping us on the picket line is having the opposite effect.  When I see a math teacher and a shop teacher who are as angry as my department members and me, and who are willing to grit their teeth over a numb, crampy back and endure the elements, that strengthens my resolve.

The strike protesters were out again today, too, for about half an hour.  They seem to be led by the township supervisor, who yesterday could be found crying on the Chicago area news about the dire financial circumstances in Zion and how the union is asking for too much–the taxpayers can’t afford this, dontchaknow?  As township supervisor, she makes $85K a year, plus benefits (and that includes $5K a year to put towards her own education).  Around Illinois, the average salary for her position is about $30K.  The taxpayers are forking out for her, and she makes more than most of the teachers and all of the support staff in the district.  So tell me:  Who can’t afford whom?  The school has provided phenomenal support to her and her causes for many years, but it looks now like there might be a significant change in that.  That’s one of the tragedies of a strike, though:  Bridges get burned, and they sometimes never get rebuilt.  You go in knowing that, but you also go in knowing who is on your side.

Elsewhere, the tit-for-tat is in full swing.  The Board of Education cancelled health insurance for the entire bargaining unit this morning (even those who are not with us), but now they have to deal with garbage build-up since the local sanitation workers have refused to pick up the district’s garbage.  They won’t cross the picket line.  Symbolically, that feels just about perfect.

Finally, someone drove by about 2PM this afternoon and yelled out, “I hope you get everything you deserve!”  Most of us waved or pumped a fist in the air, taking it as a nice show of support.  But it’s also a masterful example of double-entendre.

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Written by seeker70

January 6, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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