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Bill Dollear

Bill DollearBill Dollear

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Bill Dollear wkdollear@comcast.net

(feel free to e-mail me, I love e-mail’s)                             

Strikes

         
June used to be such a huge, important month when I was teaching. The end of the school year. There was one year we almost worked into July due to a month long (maybe longer) teacher’s strike. But now that I am on permanent strike June no longer holds the magical appeal it once did.

          Truth be told I’m not actually on strike. I’m retired. I have had my share of strikes, however. During strikes it can be difficult to plan your day because you never know when you will be returning to work. We would watch the news and hear about negotiations.

          One year it was down to the wire. All our eyes and ears were glued to the news. Will we be going back to school and work the next day? Could we sleep in and watch cartoons in our pajamas? Out and onward on the cold winter picket line?

          I remember once right when the newscasters were about to announce what we were all waiting to hear, and someone in the household whose name I will not share (JAMIE!!!!) decided to have a hissy fit. I forgot what the nameless person’s (JAMIE!!!) fit was about. In her defense, she was very young, 3 or 4. Her wiser older sister knew not to make a sound. She understood the importance of the news.

          “I don’t want to watch this!” she yelled.       

          We all yelled her name in unison to be quiet so we could hear the news.

          “NAMELESS PERSON!” (“JAMIE!!”).

          This did not stop her. But she did not care about a strike. Her school was not on strike and she loved her school and her teacher who too shall remain nameless (LINDA). Every teacher this nameless child (JAMIE) had was compared in an unfavorably way to this nameless teacher (LINDA).

          This nameless person (JAMIE) has gone on to not only become a teacher, she is a mother and a poet and a director of wonderful plays.

          I have not done a very good job of keeping her anonymous. I’ll blame the editor.

          I was not going to write about all the teacher strikes I have been in. Over 34 years there were too many to count. When I began teaching there was one every year it seemed.

          There was the year we struck in January, and picketed in 10 below zero weather thanks to Chicago winters. The Chicago Tribune reported that there were fewer and fewer teachers on the picket line. I was furious and called them and said no, that was not true. We did not march at the schools but at the district offices because the schools were closed for this particular work stoppage.

          The Tribune never did print an apology, as the Ajijic News would have. But the Ajijic News never would have printed such a glaring error in the first place.

          One strike from many years ago struck me in a negative way. All people breaking the strike (scabs, people crossing the picket lines) reported to the district offices. I remember when a principal crossed the line and several teachers yelled at him…but not what I expected them to yell.

          “Oh, Mr. Johnson (I don’t recall his real name), can you bring me a cup of coffee? Haha.   Can I get you coffee? How are you?”   They were all speaking as sweetly and welcoming as they could. He was not my principal. He was from a school I did not know but in the same district.

          Then I saw a teacher’s aide from my school crossing the line and the teachers all gathered around her yelling the most disgusting things imaginable and even tried to trip her. She was a single parent with a handicapped child.

          I do not approve of people crossing picket lines, but the strikers should treat them the same. Don’t let out a red carpet for a principal making over $100,00 a year, more now, and a coal of fire for a teacher’s aide making much, much, much less.

          The last work stoppage I was involved in was massive as we massively marched through downtown, a sea of red Chicago Teacher Union shirts.

          Now I’m outside of it all looking in. But those were the strikes I struck.




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