Strike!

The recent teachers’ strike in Minneapolis reminded me of another teachers’ strike in Luverne in 1975. I think Luverne teachers’ strike was the first one to happen after the law was changed to permit public employees to strike. I was a senior in High School, and my mother taught Grade 3. She was only a couple of years from having the serious flare-up of her Multiple Sclerosis that caused her to retire early.

I was a senior in High School, and I and my classmates were worried that the strike would prolong the school year. My mother bravely manned the picket line with her fellow teachers in some really cold December weather. It lasted a week until the school board came up with an offer that the teachers could accept. There were some hard feelings between the striking teachers and the very few who crossed the picket lines to sit in empty classrooms. Everyone seemed to get over it pretty quickly, though, and all the staff just went back to getting along with each other once school was back in session after Christmas vacation.

I was really proud of my mom on the picket line. She was a pretty rule abiding person, and it was fun to see a more militant side emerge. She was proud of herself for taking a stand.

Of which of your relatives are you the proudest? Have you ever gone on strike? How do you protest?

29 thoughts on “Strike!”

  1. As far as I know, none of my relatives have done anything extraordinary that merits being excessively proud of them. I suppose I’m proud of my parents for being “good parents.” They were there every day, weren’t afraid to discipline us kids, loved us, encouraged us to learn, and set a good example of how to be an adult.

    I’ve never gone on strike, but our teachers’ union in Carlton MN back in the early 80s got close. We at least threatened to do so, but ultimately settled for a compromise with the school board.

    I protest mostly by writing (via email) to my legislative representatives regarding various issues. In other ways, I’m a silent protester by often NOT doing or saying what others are doing or saying. Ex: I don’t play video games and I don’t live my life with my phone attached to my hand/ear/head. I also don’t watch phony reality shows, don’t go to shopping malls, don’t eat at fast-food chains, don’t belong to the two main political parties, and don’t expect the government to solve my and the world’s problems.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I was proud of my parents for leading or organizing in groups for which they had a passion. My dad was Pres. of the IPGA – Iowa Personnel and Guidance Assn. My mom organized her music students (and their parents) to put on great programs, sometimes in conjunction with a community chorus.

    I was proud of both my grandmothers for coming to the US on their own when they were in their teens. I wish I had known enough to ask them about that journey by boat, and their early experiences with whatever relatives were here to “catch” them.

    I’ve not been in a position to be part of a strike. I would hope that if a teachers’ strike had occurred where I was teaching, I would have been on the picket lines if I believed strongly about the issues.

    Have been present at some political protests, the first at ISU in 1969 or 70 about Vietnam. And lots of vigils these past few years, most recently for Ukraine – there was a rally for Ukraine here Saturday.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Renee, a teachers’ strike in Luverne must have been all-consuming news in 1975. It must have taken every ounce of resistance the union could find to strike in a small town. That is just not how it is done in small towns. In the 1960s my mother once went to a school board meeting to comment (argue, really) because her salary as a woman who was sole support of her family was far lower than male teachers’ salaries. I do not know how she did it, but she won them over and she got a raise for all the female teachers in her district. WOW!

    As a little one I was so proud of my dad who was the county Extension director. He took me everywhere with him as he toured the farms and advised the locals on farming techniques. Riding on his shoulders during these tours, I had a bird’s eye view while at the same time, my boots were free of mud and muck found everywhere on farms. He taught me his lecture on creating terraced fields “to increase production and decrease erosion in hilly terrain.”

    My mother had a difficult road in life, especially considering her neurology. I think she had a mild bipolar mood disorder, much like her father had. After my dad was disabled by MS and unable to work anymore (at age 29), Mom had to be the sole support of a family at a time when that just was not done. I am very proud that she was able to do what she did despite her discomfort in flouting the prevailing social norms. She did the thing that was the very hardest thing for her to do. However, she was prone to staying up much of the night to worry and fret, then in the morning, exhausted, she would attempt to control everything. I was uniquely determined to never be controlled, thus a conflict endured through much of our lives. She was prone to blaming me for things that did not go as she wanted, even when I was not involved. This became a family dynamic that lasted through the years. So I have chosen to live apart from the rest of the family in Iowa simply so I do not get blamed.

    I did not do anything to be proud of in the following paragraph, but I do want to honor the stances these ancestors chose:

    During genealogy research I also discovered that Thomas Jefferson’s scrivener, Timothy Matlack, a free Quaker who was part of Betsy Ross’s circle in revolutionary Philadelphia, is a cousin in that generation. I think his mother had the same maiden name as my own. Timothy Matlack copied all the copies of the Declaration of Independence, including the copy most recently discovered. The free Quakers were those who were evicted from the mainstream Philadelphia meeting because they were willing to fight in the war to protest slavery, rather than maintain the pacifist stance expected. My own grandfather (Daniel Stratton) in that generation fought in the infantry to protest slavery. He returned to the Quaker meeting in Medford, NJ after the war. His son made the covered wagon and the wagon box (now in my living room) and emigrated first to Virginia, then to Ohio following the war.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. My kids are those relatives of whom I am most proud. Never been on strike but have refused to cross construction site picket lines.
    Organized labor should have struck nationwide when Saint Ronnie R. fired the air traffic controllers.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I am most proud of my maternal grandmother for her strong will, determined spirit, and sense of humor. She was the only woman in the Waseca Bluejays marching band sometime in the late 1920s. I’m not as good at tracking down the dates and details as others so I don’t know exactly when it was. She marched in a dress and heels, with her hair done, playing a trombone. A few years later she married my Catholic grandfather. She was Protestant. There were rules about this kind of thing and it meant that he would have to leave his church and faith, incur the wrath of his mother, be ostracized from the Catholic part of Waseca and generally lose his religion in favor of hers. It still amazes me that this kind of thing happened. My grandmother stood by the man she loved for the rest of her life and raised her daughters with love and humor. I think she was pretty cool.

    I have participated in two strikes. The first was in 1983, if I remember correctly. It was in the summer and lasted about 3 weeks. I picketed on a street corner in Faribault. We picketed in shifts. It was the state employee strike and if I remember correctly it was about health care insurance benefits. I did cross the line once but not to go to work. A friend and I missed some of the residents during the strike, so we went in the back gravel road and went to our building and knocked on the door. Our supervisor came out and yelled at us that we weren’t supposed to be there. We explained what we wanted. So he went to get the two residents and we took them out to the Dairy Queen and bought them something, took them for a walk, then went back on that gravel road and returned them. Our supervisor looked exhausted. He asked if we wanted to return. We said No, we agree with the strike and will continue striking but we just missed our friends.

    There was another strike, and I apologize for having such a poor memory of actual dates, but it was during the time I lived and worked in Waterville. I think possibly during the Pawlenty administration. I hated that strike. I understood the need because if I recall correctly, it was again about the health care benefits. The is almost always the last sticking point in negotiations with the state. That strike felt more angry and I didn’t feel the team spirit I felt during the last one. It was symptomatic of my entire experience at the DNR – I didn’t feel like part of a group way out there in a fish hatchery in the boondocks of Waterville. I didn’t feel like I have friends or partners in devilish deeds. I kind of need those kinds of people in my life. I was really glad when that one ended and I was happy to be back at my desk in that miserable smelly fish hatchery. Home sweet home.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. What a cool question. I’m always impressed with what my grandparents or Great Grandparents went through just in daily life. Not to mention the ones beyond them; I can’t even imagine.

    I belong to to two unions; the Stagehands here in Rochester is called IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. “The Union behind entertainment”) The local here is small, like 16 people. And it really only covers the civic center in town. Even though I don’t work with them anymore I keep supporting it. Many years ago when I was involved with them, we threatened a strike as negotiations with the city stalled. But the higher- ups warned us, we’re too small to matter. The vote was split but not going on strike won out and eventually a contract was signed.

    I’m also a Union employee for my college job.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Husband is a union member. I am not sure that ND State Employees can strike. I protest, like Chris, by what I don’t do. My mother had a militant side, and could really roiled up by injustice and unfairness. There is a link to a good article all about the strike that I just couldn’t get to copy. if interested, look under Luverne MN teachers strike, and read it.

    The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 was the largest strike in Canadian history, and was important in the development of the NDP political party. It is fascinating to read about. I think that Emma Goldman participated in it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnipeg_general_strike

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Democrats cannot defeat this lie. They must remember that eventually 2 year old children grow up and beyond such behavior. The GOP appears to be very stuck in a developmental phase, however.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I have had that political “conversation” with 40 years old devotees of Q.
        “Hillary Clinton eats baby parts in the basement of Comet Pizza Washington DC.”
        And the current “Democrats are the party of pedophiles.”

        Like

        1. There is a lot written in mental health circles about the group delusion that this phenomenon demonstrates. I think the hearings for KBJ was an example of certain politicians trying to appeal to that population. I wonder if they really believe that stuff. I could not watch the hearings—my mind got stuck on all diagnoses I was seeing and I do not want to spend my free time doing that!

          Liked by 6 people

        2. I had to look up the name: folie deux meaning group madness. I don’t know if the spelling will post correctly. I am fighting with autocorrect over it.

          Liked by 4 people

      2. I knew a couple where one was psychotic and convinced the other one that a country western singing group was transmitting secret messages to them over the television. We had to hospitalize them both.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Have I been on strike? No. Have I been out on protests? Oh my yes. Protested the Mpls Public School administration’s decision in 1981-82 to close the three high schools in the center of the city (which included mine) along with several other buildings – a decision that was very short sighted and we are still seeing the fallout in the district (see also: the teacher strike we just had). I protested Ollie North and the Iran Contra hearings. I marched on Washington with thousands of other women when the Orange Cheeto came into office. I have stood in our state capitol’s lawn. I have stood on Lake Street. But never been unionized, so haven’t walked a picket line – just supported them.

    As for who I am proud of from my family… I will mention two women: the founding aunt in the Bliss family who successfully defended herself against an accusation of witchcraft during the Witch Trial madness that was running up and down New England (she was in Springfield, MA – not Salem). She convinced the so-called jury and judge that she wasn’t a witch nor was witchcraft involved in the death of her neighbor’s pigs – he was just a lousy farmer. And on the maternal side of the family – I’m gonna put my mom in there. I was in college (college!) before I found out that her year studying in Norway was on a Fulbright scholarship. And she didn’t just work any library job while she was there, she worked at the US Embassy. And played the organ once for some hoity-toity event there. And had audience with King Olav (memory is fuzzy – it was either while he was still Crown Prince or right after he was crowned king). I knew about Norway and Olav when I was a kid… but she failed to mention the Fulbright. I guess that is the Norwegian Lutheran showing itself – bragging being the most cardinal of sins in her mind…

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I spent all day debating this and I think I have to do my mom and dad as a pair. They both overcame very difficult childhoods, both made the decision that they didn’t want to live like that and repeat those patterns and formed a bond and a partnership that last until my dad‘s death.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. While I’ve never been a member of a union, or personally participated in a strike, I grew up in a strong union family. Dad was out on strike several times while I was a teen. He was a Communist, as were many of his fellow sailors, always ready to fight for what he was convinced was right.

    Protests, now that’s a different story. I have been actively involved in protests, both small personal ones and large organized ones for about as long as I can remember. Sit-ins, marches, boycotts, letter writing campaigns, phone calls, volunteering, you name it, and I’ve done it. Lately most of my protesting consists in supporting financially those who can and will do the physical work I can no longer participate in. There’s just too much at stake to sit idly by and wait for others to fix things.

    I would have loved to have participated in the Women’s March that Anna participated in. It would have been a much needed morale booster at a time when a lot of us were in deep despair over the outcome of the 2016 election.

    Liked by 2 people

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