CEA President Sheila Cohen addressed active and retired teachers at a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Bridgeport teachers strike.
Hundreds of active and retired teachers, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in decades, gathered yesterday evening to commemorate a historic milestone—the Bridgeport teachers strike of 1978—which, for many, has brought to mind the wave of uprisings and walkouts happening across the country today.
“How ironic that the timing of this 40th anniversary plays into the Supreme Court case of Janus v. AFSCME, an attack on the very people who are here today and all those we represent,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “How ironic, as well, that the timing is seemingly synchronized with what has been happening in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, and soon, North Carolina.”
Seeking fair wages and better working conditions, including prep time and smaller class sizes, a total of 274 Bridgeport teachers in 1978 were handcuffed, fined, and jailed, as well as strip-searched, deloused, made to use bathroom stalls without doors, and subject to other degradations. Read more
CEA’s collective voice was heard loud and clear by members of the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee who gave a red light to HB 6388, a proposal that would have severely damaged teachers’ right to bargain salaries and working conditions.
While this is good news, anything can happen in the weeks ahead since legislative proposals can reemerge as amendments when the full state House and Senate acts on legislation.
HB 6388 emanated from Governor M. Jodi Rell’s budget address. It would have hurt collective bargaining rights in many ways, such as allowing cities and towns to freeze teacher salaries, insurance and working conditions to eliminating the ability of teachers to negotiate hours in future negotiations.
CEA made a major effort to alert teachers about HB 6388 and its potential consequences. From a front page story in the CEA Advisor to an all-member letter to prominence on the CEA website, member attention was focused on the legislative measure. Teachers collective voices makes an enormous difference.