Friday, October 20, 2006

Working within the system

At one point in college I was about five minutes away from getting arrested. Shocking, right? Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not the getting arrested type. Well, we were staging a demonstration. A sit in to be precise. We walked into the Admissions office and sat ourselves down until someone listened to what we were saying. Interestingly, it wasn't the threat of arrest that drew us out of that building, but the threat of expulsion. Even then, crazy college kids that we were, we knew that in order to get things done we needed to work within the system. To a certain extent. And there is no way you can do that if you are kicked out of that system.
It might have been a hard won lesson, but it was a lesson learned nonetheless. But sometimes, the system is really really really frustrating. For the past seven months I've been involved with contract negotiations for our district. We recently had a meeting for mediation. A fifteen and a half hour long meeting. (Yes you read that right. It started at 4:00 and ended at 7:30 the next morning. The most amazing part is not that it lasted that long but that I made it through the whole meeting caffeine free!) And in the end we walked away. With, essentially, nothing. Why you ask? Well, simply put, we didn't like what they had to offer. And that's putting it mildly. We couldn't stage a sit in, but we sure could walk out. So that's what we did. Knowing that we had to start all over again. Knowing that our next step, arbitration, was a crapshoot. Knowing that in the end the people we represent won't be happy with what we end up with....we walked away. Sometimes, even when you are working within the system, you need to send a strong message.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a well written post. I'm sorry you had to sit through such a long meeting, though. I don't think I could have done it.
I remember how proud dad was when you participated in that sit in! One of the few times in history a parent might not be upset to hear that their child might need to be bailed out of jail!