Sunday, February 27, 2011

Working Class Join Forces

Wisconsin has become ground zero for the war that is being waged by Conservatives on the teachers who belong to the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) and other union workers.

Yesterday, the VEA was invited to participate in the solidarity rally that was pulled together by leaders of MoveOn.Org in Richmond. I was one of the speakers invited to bring some brief remarks to the crowd of about 300 people who turned out on a Saturday afternoon to show their support of the union workers--and the middle class--in Wisconsin.

Below, please find my remarks:

I am Kitty Boitnott, president of the Virginia Education Association, and I stand with my colleagues in Wisconsin.

Many of you may not know that, by virtue of a 1977 Virginia Supreme Court decision, Commonwealth v. Arlington County Board, and the prohibition, Section 40.1-57.2 in the Code of Virginia, Virginia’s teachers and support personnel are prohibited from the right to collective bargaining.

I stand with my colleagues in Wisconsin, because I know this prohibition has been bad for the children and school employees of Virginia.

Ladies and gentlemen, the working conditions of teachers are the learning conditions of children.

Because we have no collective bargaining, Virginia, the 7th wealthiest state in the nation ranks 38th in state funding per pupil.

Because we have no collective bargaining, Virginia, the 7th wealthiest state in the nation pays its teachers a salary $5351 below the national average.

Because we have no collective bargaining, Virginia’s teachers pay up to $13,809 out of pocket for family health insurance.

Because we have no collective bargaining, we cannot protect our children from large class sizes and inadequate learning materials.

The lack of collective bargaining weakens my association, making us less effective in our advocacy for children and public education.

Sometimes, I am proud to champion the Virginia way. In regard to collective bargaining, it is clear that Wisconsin should not go the Virginia way.

Workers in Wisconsin and, yes, workers in Virginia deserve the dignity and respect they gain when they sit across the table from management to discuss wages, benefits and working conditions.

I stand with the teachers of Wisconsin, and I stand against the billionaires driving Scott Walker and his buddies who are trying to destroy America’s middle class, America’s public servants, and America’s public schools.