This post is a contribution to EDUSolidarity, the net roots campaign of hundreds of American teachers explaining “why teachers like me support teacher unions.”
by Zina Burton-Myrick
Growing up in a family of unionists, I remember when the hotel trades went on strike in the ’80s. My mother led employees out there in front of the Doral Hotel on Park Avenue and dared any scab to cross! My first real memory of what unions were about! My dad was a shop steward and I remember waiting for him to leave work, never on time, because he was always representing someone at Grumbacher Paints. My stepdad worked for MTA and was also a staunch unionist also. They earned decent salaries and were able to put me and my sister through college and live a comfortable life. If it weren’t for unions, my mom who has recently gone through a round of cancer, would not have a pension, benefits or a health center to get her (and us) through these hard times. I can tell you of many stories of my life as a teacher for the past 23 years, starting out in the south Bronx going through reorganization, 50% coming and going, coming to Harlem, fighting off Evil Moskowitz charters, on and on. Through it all, it was always the UFT who was there for support of its members, see that we had fair wages, safe working conditions, pensions and health benefits. I’ve witnessed the UFT standing strong with all of the labor unions in NYC over the years and will continue to. Why teacher’s like me support unions, our city couldn’t be run fairly without them!