May 16, 2022
The scope of the strike extends beyond the current state of the town, according to many BEU members.
Fourth grade teacher and co-chair of the BEU contract action team Justin Brown, who has worked for 17 years at the Lawrence school, said the fight for a fair contract will secure improved working conditions for other educators in the future.
“We are doing this for the future,” Brown said. “We are doing this for future educators, future union leaders and future students of Brookline to make sure that the parts of contracts that really affect what happens in the classroom, our working conditions, remain something to be bargained for.”
Sailer said the experience of being a teacher is unique, thus difficult for others to understand.
“I wish [people who do not support the BEU] knew what it was like to teach and to teach well. To have to care for 100 students on a day-to-day basis and how much that takes from you personally. It’s something that you don’t understand if you don’t do it,” Sailer said.
Sixth grade Social Studies teacher at the Lawrence School and union member Kevin Mackenzie said the strike reflects a broader unity amongst educators.
“This was an overwhelming decision. We overwhelmingly feel this way. It’s not just a few loud voices,” Mackenzie said. “You can see that really today with how much turnout we have. It is everybody. We all feel this way, we’re all on the same page and we are all united. We are clearly the union. We are the union everyday and we continue to be the union.”
Kostant said many teachers are worried about the strike’s impact on their students.
“It takes a lot to strike. This is my first time striking, and I’ve been here for 26 years. It is a heartbreaking thing to have to do. Some of us here are crying. This is a very, very sad, somber moment for many of us,” Kostant said. “We know this has consequences on our students, and are heartbroken that it has come to this. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel that way. I would so much rather be teaching today.”
METCO adviser Loring Greene said he hopes students can learn from this experience.
“I hope students understand that when they go out into the workforce, they have the opportunity to advocate for themselves. I hope this can be a model for them,” Greene said.
Fernandez said beyond the contract, the town needs an override along with the passage of the Fair Share Amendment on the upcoming November ballot.
“We’re fighting amongst ourselves, in part because there’s not enough money in our school system and in our town, even in this town of tremendous wealth. We are not capturing all that wealth and putting it where it needs to be. That’s education and social services,” Fernandez said. “We need to get this contract done, but the other thing that we need to do is pass a local override so we can actually bring in more revenue and put that towards the schools and social services. We’ve spent a lot of money on buildings recently, and not enough money on the people in them.”