June Temple

June TempleJune Temple

Like the others who gave up their nights and weekends for the collective bargaining campaign in 1961, June Temple was a dutiful foot soldier. She could live with the long exhausting hours and no pay — not even car fare. But for some there were worse privations. She remembers a fellow worker shouting across a room: "Can’t we even afford coffee?"

Temple, though, was no stranger to hardship. "I knew what it was to be without money," she said. "Nobody had to convince me that we needed a union. I didn’t need to go to socialist Sunday school." Just being a teacher was enough incentive. "I took a cut in salary to become a teacher," she said, explaining that her 1954 starting salary of $2,700 was less than she was making on the evening shift at a Manhattan bank.

But as bad as conditions were, the thought of going out on strike was very troubling. "I’d gone to Catholic grammar school and the nuns had devoted their lives to us. Going on strike seemed like I was deserting the students."

Moral qualms or not, when the first strike was called in November of 1960, June Temple was there, the only member of the Curtis HS faculty to actually walk a picket line that day. "Joe O’Toole [a teacher from another Staten Island school] and I managed to convince 18 people not to cross our picket line."

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