Teachers still feeling ramifications of last year's protest at capitol

Posted: Updated:
By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX – One of the most vocal opponents to school budget cuts has been the Arizona Education Association.

The union has angered many state lawmakers and set the stage for another confrontation on Tuesday at the state capital but the showdown did not happen.

It did not happen because a bill which union officials claim targets teachers was held because of a lack of support.

The fact teachers stood alone against the measure is indicative of a crack in traditional union solidarity, which many feel is another sobering sign of the state’s ailing economy.

On January 2009 teachers, students and administrators participated in a vocal demonstration at the state capitol protesting budget cuts. The ramifications of that protest are still being felt today.

“I’m really confused by it. I don’t know why professional teachers were singled out. I don’t know why my professional association was singled out,” admits Janie Hydrick, with Mesa Public Schools.

Hydrick is referring to a bill which would prohibit school districts from automatically deducting union dues from a teacher’s paycheck.

“I think it was a targeted piece of legislation aimed at the EA and other teacher organizations and it sure felt like revenge to us,” explains John Wright, with the Arizona Education Association.

It was revenge, according to Wright, because the teacher’s union is one of the most vocal organizations that frequents the capital.

Work on this and other bills may be put on hold for a while. There are indications Gov. Janet Brewer may call a special session for next week.

If a special session is called, it would deal with a variety of issues including referring a state sales tax increase of a penny to voters in an election later this spring.

Time is of the essence since the governor is counting on that money to help balance this year’s budget.