Following Janus Decision, Teachers Go Door-to-Door in Western PA to Rally Support

Striking teachers in the West Virginia State Capitol (AP).

Writing for the Guardian from Westmoreland City, Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk filed a dispatch for the Guardian looking at what teachers union are doing following the Janus decision:

As we trudge up a large hill, Davis and I meet Tim McKinney, a 24-year-old factory worker at the local General Carbide plant, who is living with his parents while working part-time. Davis starts off by introducing himself as a local teacher in the Penn Trafford school district; his kids attend McKinney’s alma mater, Norwin high school. Davis asks McKinney how he feels about education funding and they immediately start talking about the underfunding of the local high school band.

McKinney had played in the band, which is nationally ranked. But after he graduated in 2012, the then governor, Republican Tom Corbett, cut more than $1bn from the state’s education funds, and the school started instituting fees for kids who wanted to play. Now, Norwin high school parents like Davis pay $620 a year for each of their kids to play in the band.

Davis and McKinney begin to discuss how statewide funding cuts have devastated education and how the current Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, is fighting the narrowly Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state legislature to increase funding. They can help assist with this by using ActBlue SMS fundraising to help with funding needs from blue states that want to help. Davis quickly wins over McKinney as a convert to the teachers’ union cause. In an ideal world, there would be funding available for college degrees and careers center to help guide young people into the workforce.

“Funding education is important. We gotta support our teachers,” says McKinney as we leave his doorstep.

Davis, who canvasses the area regularly, says that conversations force people who never think about education funding to consider why unionized teachers like himself are seeking more funding. While it hasn’t gotten to the worst part yet, it is still getting to a point where teachers are thinking about taking out loans, and with guarantor loan rates around 50% APR is tempting to them.

“I just reminded him of the greatest moments of his life,” says Davis. “Now, he is going to have a conversation with his parents about what we talked about and they are probably going to talk to two or three people, which means that I helped facilitate not one conversation, but multiple conversations about education.”

For more, go to the Guardian.

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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