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Don’t turn back the clock

New York Teacher

I could not help but consider the ramifications of life without a union when reading the President’s Perspective column [June 6]. The forces behind the recent Supreme Court decision in the Janus case are divisive and evil. I write this as a proud UFT member who is winding down his career and is able to see the benefits I have thanks to the power of my union. When my daughter was accepted into the Teaching Fellows program and was hired, she knew how important the union was from growing up in my household.

The reason was simple. As President Mulgrew stated, “These benefits were neither gifts nor handouts,” they were and are earned. My father moved our family to Rhode Island in the early 1970s, thinking life would be better due to the reduced cost of living. He found a job but, as soon as his family arrived, he was told his workweek would consist of 50 hours and rotating Sunday work without overtime pay. Having the expenses of life, he could not complain; he simply went to work.

That changed when a co-worker had to deal with a serious illness in the family. That’s when my father began to organize and demand representation by 1199 for all pharmacists in Rhode Island.

These battles were scary, but my father persisted and demanded a reasonable wage and a level of honesty and integrity from his employer, which every person deserves. Unions have fought for workers’ rights because history and circumstances demanded it. You don’t turn back the clock. You want the union.

Ari Steinfeld, Richmond Hill HS


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