The more things change, the more they …

… stay the same.

We all know that old saying and, recently, Rod Sherman brought the physical proof.

President of the Plattsburgh TA and a member of NYSUT’s Board of Directors, Rod brought more than a dozen copies of union newspapers from the late 1960s and early 1970s to NYSUT’s recent endorsement conference. The copies were all from the New York State Teachers Association, one of NYSUT’s predecessor unions.

We scanned in one from 1969 where the union won what was considered a landmark ruling at the time for keeping a male teacher from being fired based on the length of his hair and mustache.

John Collins, center photo, was fired for the length of his moustache and hair.

Other papers carried news of what the union was doing to repair damage inflicted by lawmakers from a series of anti-education laws that allowed capricious firings of non-tenured teachers and allowed for a five-year probationary period. There were also editorials against allowing corporations to gain a foothold in turning a profit off of public education.

“It makes for interesting reading,” Sherman said when he handed them over for me to add to NYSUT’s archives.

What’s most interesting to me is how often the news back then was all about teachers going out on strike and also Public Employment Relations Board rulings. But then came the 1972 Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority decision. As shorthand, many just say Triborough. It prohibits employers from changing terms and conditions of employment while a successor agreement is being negotiated. This principle became known as the Triborough Doctrine. If you haven’t heard it being attacked, you will. Here’s a good explanation about the importance of Triborough.

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One Comment

  1. Marc September 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I admit I am not well informed on the history of the labor movement in education. Some of my colleagues whose parents were educators during that time say thier parents remember how bad things were. Will it get that bad again? I believe that, if left unchecked, the corporate-government assault on public education and public educators might just succeed in bringing back those good old days.

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