When Amy Broad, a building rep at Bridgeport’s Winthrop School, talks about union membership with teachers at her school, she puts it in a historical context. Without the sacrifice of the Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) members who went on strike in 1978, many of whom went to jail, teachers would not have the wages, benefits, and working conditions they enjoy today.
“A lot of people who are teaching now aren’t aware of what the strikers actually did,” the kindergarten teacher says. “We have the advantage of having prep periods, and pay, and collective bargaining, and all of that, and some teachers today don’t know where that came from. They don’t realize what was going on back before 1978, and that those things had to be fought for.”
The Bridgeport Strike was a defining moment for teachers in Connecticut, and its lessons about the importance of teachers sticking together still hold true today.
“All teachers need to realize that the only way to continue our profession and to do what’s best for our students, is to be involved with what’s going on and to fight for our profession,” Broad says. “If we don’t fight back against attacks on our profession, then others are just going to tear down teaching and they’re going to tear down our profession. We need to encourage everyone to really get involved and stick together.”
As a building rep, Broad sees firsthand the many ways that union membership benefits teachers.
“I tell teachers that it’s very important to be a part of CEA, and their local, the BEA, so they can stay up-to-date on what is going on in their profession. CEA keeps us informed on everything that is going on politically, and our local Association keeps us informed about what’s going on in our district. We have to make sure we know what our rights are and what’s available to us as union members.”
Here at CEA, we’re recognizing building reps around the state for their dedication to their colleagues and their willingness to devote time out of their busy schedules to this important job. Know a building rep superhero you’d like to nominate? Drop us a line and let us know about your building rep!