I’ve read what I can about the CTU Strike on April 1st, despite being on Spring Break and trying to forget some things for a while. This was an informative piece from Jacobin.
I have many friends and acquaintances from Chicago who are participating in the day of action tomorrow. My entire family is from the South Side, Evergreen Park, a little house on Kedzie, so I have a fond connection to the city I frequently visited as a child on road trips from Pittsburgh.
As an only child, I’ve never been comfortable with people telling me what to do. It’s gotten uncomfortable at times, but I’ve been generally well-adjusted to the proposition. In fact, as an educator, one can get quite used to being ruled by fiat, or being told what to do, micromanaged on a daily basis.
I get told what to do A LOT. I get recommendations and feedback A LOT. Sometimes the feedback contradicts itself when you have multiple people looking at the same thing. When thinking about the day of action tomorrow for Chicago teachers, I am very supportive of the cause.
I read an account by a Chicago teacher who is struggling to make sense of the one-day strike. I am appreciative of the alternative perspective. Then I see people on my social media feeds calling people scabs. From where I sit, there has been some disagreement with how the strike vote came about. There are some concerns that teachers are being bullied into participation.
I recognize the need for solidarity. When thousands of people speak together in defense of a cause, it’s much more powerful. I understand.
But then that small part of me resents being told what to do by any party. Part of me reacts strongly to the implication that any teacher who goes in to teach or work is a scab. I see writing like this, from someone who I greatly respect:
Regardless of your reasoning, your colleagues will NEVER forget. Even if you change schools, your reputation as a strikebreaker will follow you. Forever. Even if you become an administrator, the people you supervise (and perhaps your peers) will recall this act. Don’t cross the line.
I mean, are you freaking kidding me? Is this the UK miners’ strike of 1984? I sincerely doubt anyone will indeed remember or care.
What I find so interesting about this one day strike is that teachers are essentially missing one day of school, which is really no big deal. That’s about eight hours, and this from people that probably work 20 additional hours over and above their contracts each week anyway, so what is actually being protested here?
When teachers return to work on Monday, they’ll most likely work above and beyond normal contract hours once again, and on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and in perpetuity. I can certainly appreciate the solidarity, what power and impact thousands of teachers walking out will do for the cause. That is likely the power in this one day strike.
That I understand.
But this very ominous sounding language, coming from any side, is very bothersome to me.
Correct me if I’m wrong.