‘We’re being assertive’: Arizona teachers feel new power as strikes set to end

(The week-long strike led to the closure of schools across 110 districts, affecting 1.1 million public school students in the state. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP)

Over at the Guardian, Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk filed a dispatch for the Guardian from the Tuscon May Day protest, where teachers are winding the first-ever statewide strike in Arizona history:

“We’re teachers and we do everything that we are supposed to do. Teachers become teachers, [and] we don’t rock the boat. When people ask us to do something we do it. We’re polite, we’re not rabble-rousers,” said 57-year old Mario Garcia, a teacher at Mary Belle McCorkle elementary school in Tucson.

Now, Garcia said he was seeing a major shift.

“I see so many people that you would never expect to see at a protest. Something has changed.”

Veteran teachers said that their colleagues, once apolitical, are quickly turning into activists.

“Teachers don’t talk about these sort of things. We talk about our students every day, but we don’t [usually] talk about how we are underpaid and poorly treated. Now we do,” said 54-year-old art teacher Lisa Bradford. “It’s really exciting, because instead of being passive, as teachers have been in the past, we’re being assertive.”

Go to the Guardian to read the full story. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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