It was a sea of red.
Thousands of UFT members at schools across the city wore the color on Valentine’s Day — and shared photos on social media — to show their love for their union. UFT membership teams that have been forming in schools this winter used the day to raise awareness of the Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court less than two weeks before oral arguments took place on Feb. 26.
At PS 56 in the Norwood Heights section of the Bronx, educators loved the action, said Chapter Leader Terry Goldman. Everyone arrived for a group photo before the start of the school day to demonstrate solidarity, she said, “and people were still smiling at the end of day. It was something that made everybody feel good.”
Goldman contrasted her current pay and benefits with her early days as a teacher in a Catholic school in the city. “My first salary was $9,000,” she said. “Don’t ask me how I lived on that. I worked two jobs, plus a third during the summer. It’s nice to be able to focus on my work now instead of always having to think about how I’m going to pay the next bill.”
Sabina Nwenyi, a 5th-grade math teacher and the chapter leader at PS 28 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, said every UFT member in her school wore red on Feb. 14. The action solidified the sense of unity in her chapter, she said.
“People in our school already knew about the Janus case, but it helps us to all be on the same page,” Nwenyi said. “People understand what’s at stake and how everything we have could be lost: our contract and due-process rights, the ability to file a grievance, health benefits, our pensions. There are so many things to be concerned about.”