Why Teachers Need Labor Unions: To Fight the War.

 

 There is a war between the rich and poor,
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
and the ones who say there isn’t.

  
We decided to become teachers because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. It was a calling. Parents and friends and neighbors thought we were foolish, become a lawyer, a stock broker, a “real” job at which you can make a “real” living. There were times when we had second thoughts. It was harder than we could have imagined. Slowly, ever so slowly we got better, we no longer went home every night distraught. We began to look forward to the next day, the next challenge, we had become a teacher.
 
We watched our kids come to school in the winter without a winter coat. Come to school hungry, or angry or both. We listened to stories about who had been shot and who was in jail, and who was evicted or was living in a shelter.
 
No one seemed to care.
 
We worked our asses off for a presidential candidate in 2008 who thrilled us. At last, a candidate who would make a difference, a difference for our kids and a president who would support what we do each and every day.
 
Rather than thanking us and supporting us he blames us for the ills of  society and seeks to punish us and the kids we cherish and protect.
 
There is a war.
 
As individuals we may be powerless, as members of a union we are powerful.
 
We vote, we demonstrate, we advocate, we organize, we provide the glue to the disparate elements that agree with us. We’re on street corners handing out flyers, we’re sending e-mails and faxes to elected officials, we go to Community Education Council meetings and speak up.
 
There is a war between the rich and poor
 
Republican presidential hopefuls want to slash budgets, end collective bargaining, reduce or abolish pensions, and probably want to repeal the 13th amendment and re-establish peonage. 
 
Why don’t you come on back to the war, don’t be a tourist,
 
Teaching isn’t enough, our kids need clothes and food and shelter and safe streets and the opportunity to thrive and go to college and become voters.
 
We can teach them how to read and calculate, to think, to challenge, we can teach them to grow as human beings and we show them how to fight for what we all deserve.
 
Our union can lead the way, thousands upon thousands of teachers, united, part of the trade union movement, proud of our past and willing to fight for a better future.
 
Why don’t you come on back to the war, can’t you hear me speaking?
 
The time for whining and complaining is over, we speak for the powerless, and, if Newt or Sarah or Mitt or Barack don’t like it, or, are angry at us, so be it.
 

In unity there is strength.

 

Why don’t you come on back to the war, that’s right, get in it,
why don’t you come on back to the war, it’s just beginning.

Why don’t you come on back to the war, don’t be a tourist,

Why don’t you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,
why don’t you come on back to the war, let’s all get even,
why don’t you come on back to the war, can’t you hear me speaking?
Leonard Cohen, “There is a War.” 

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2 responses to “Why Teachers Need Labor Unions: To Fight the War.

  1. I agree with what you say here. However where is our union leading the way? Why isn’t the UFT listed as an endorser for the March 24th rally as are several other unions, including DC 37? As is said, In unity there is strength!

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  2. Pingback: This is What #EDUSolidarity Looks Like – The Full List « Outside the Cave

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