THE 1968 FLORIDA TEACHERS' STRIKE AND THE EMERGENCE OF TEACHER UNIONISM

 

Michael Makowsky

Florida State University

 

In 1968, Florida teachers staged the nation's first statewide teachers' strike and temporarily focused the state's attention on education.  The strike also marked the rise of militant unionism over professional associationalism among Florida's teachers.  Opposing views regarding the education crisis, however, contained a basis for agreement which offers an explanation of that bitter conflict.

 

Governor Claude Kirk protested that striking teachers were seeking a salary increase and negotiation rights to gain control of Florida's education system.  While Wade Hopping, the Governor's chief of staff during the strike agreed, he added that teachers deserved a salary raise, and education needed increased funding.  Hopping has suggested that the discord began as a reform movement, although the National Education Association (NEA) soon became involved and instigated the strike.  "I felt sorry for Constans," Hopping later exclaimed, "he just wanted to reform the schools" and provide teachers a justifiable salary increase.(1)

 

Phil Constans, from 1967 to 1969 Executive Secretary of the Florida Education Association (FEA), an NEA affiliate, insisted that he had led the educators' walkout to protest the deteriorating conditions in Florida's schools.  He has maintained, "I really believed that what we were doing" was an effort "to get better education for children."  Larry Brown, then the editor of Florida Education, the FEA's official publication, has corroborated Constans' position and has argued that the association leader did not want to strike but was concerned only with the quality of Florida's school system.  Constans was forced into the strike.(2)  On the other hand, Pat Tornillo, the militant leader of the Dade County Classroom Teachers Association (DCCTA), an FEA-NEA affiliate, did pursue a Florida teachers' strike.

 

Brown, like Hopping, has argued that the strike's origins went beyond Florida and involved the NEA.  Strikers, they have said, promoted school reform, improved education funding, and higher teachers' salaries.  But the conflict's real inspiration was in a broader national conflict between the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).(3)

 

Competition between the two national organizations began in 1961, when the AFT defeated the NEA in an election to represent New York City's teachers.  The Federation advocated collective bargaining and strikes to obtain teachers' goals, and after their victory the Federation struck the New York schools and won significant salary gains for teachers.  The strike's success enhanced the union's position, and AFT leaders spread its militant message across the nation in direct competition with the NEA to represent teachers.

 

The NEA, chartered by the federal government as a professional association, had rejected collective bargaining and strikes as unprofessional.  But, with the growing Federation threat, proponents of unionism in the NEA began to support union tactics to counter AFT gains.  They joined with activists like Tornillo in Florida to improve school funding and increase teacher salaries.  Their campaign, resisted by a recalcitrant governor, led to the 1968 teachers' strike.  Association militants advocated the strike and used the Florida conflict to generate unionism within the association.  Union proponents achieved their goals.  After the strike, the NEA immediately began to adopt union positions.  In Florida the walkout precipitated an AFT-NEA conflict that resulted in the state's being equally divided between the two national teacher unions.

 

The campaign for association unionism began in 1962 at the NEA Representative Assembly, the Association's policy making body.  Despite the AFT threat, association leaders who espoused professionalism resisted change.  William Carr, the NEA's Executive Secretary from 1952 to 1967, led the fight against unionism.  He championed association professionalism, maintaining that student welfare was the organization's first concern.  Most importantly he unequivocally repudiated teacher strikes.  In his opening remarks to the 1962 Assembly, Carr addressed the delegates, "I think I can say on your behalf" that "the members of the National Education Association . . . will keep their pledged word and they will never walkout on the students in their charge."(4)  However, in 1962 Dr. Carr's professionalism faced a challenge from the new association militants.

 

Association activists demanded a means to counter the AFT insurgency and to promote teacher welfare.  Their insistence had already led to the creation of an urban division within the association.  The new division represented the NEA in the cities where it was most vulnerable to union intrusions.  In 1961, activists had passed a professional negotiations policy to counter the AFT's collective bargaining strategy.  At the 1962 convention, delegates strengthened that policy with a resolution that increased assistance for locals involved in negotiations.(5)

 

The new militants' primary objective was an association policy that mandated NEA support for striking affiliates.  While professionals reluctantly agreed to an urban division and accepted the concept of professional negotiations, they refused to move on the strike issue.  Strike proponents failed to win an association strike policy in 1962.  Rather, delegates adopted a sanctions resolution to assist locals in their negotiations disputes. This sanctions policy advocated using public relations to inform the public and teachers when a school district's program fell below an acceptable standard.  Strike proponents rejected sanctions as a substitute for strikes in negotiations campaigns.  The strike issue divided NEA unionists and professionals in contentious debate until unionism triumphed in 1968.(6)

 

Much of the support for the union movement in the association came from urban locals.  The creation of the NEA's urban division in 1962 gave urban associations greater unity to promote their interests.  In 1963, better organized urban association leaders established the National Council for Urban Education Associations (NCUEA) to support their demands for a more militant organization.

 

Among the leaders to emerge in that group was Dade County association leader Patrick Tornillo.  In 1963, he called for organizational militancy in his successful campaign for president of the Dade County Classroom Teachers Association.  After his election Tornillo embraced sanctions and professional negotiations in a campaign to negotiate a salary increase for Dade teachers.  When the school board refused to negotiate, Tornillo turned to the NEA and the FEA for assistance.  The NEA, through its urban division, gave Dade both staff and financial assistance throughout 1964 and 1965 and urged the FEA to do likewise.  But in 1964 the state association, like the national, was firmly entrenched in the professional camp and was reluctant to become involved in the Dade salary dispute.  The state organization's reaction caused Tornillo, Janet Dean, and other Dade teacher leaders to use DCCTA activism in promoting a more aggressive state organization.(7)

 

Tornillo's campaign proved successful when in May 1965, the FEA Board of Directors requested an NEA investigation of Florida politics and education.  Association leaders called for the investigation, because they believed Governor Haydon Burns and the legislature had relegated education to a secondary status.  The educators expressed their concerns in a professional appeal, arguing that the governor's position of no new taxes deprived the schools of adequate funding and denied children a quality education.  The FEA noted the deterioration of teacher salaries in its request for NEA assistance.(8)

 

After a preliminary investigation of conditions in Florida, the NEA approved the state association's request.  Between May 1965 and March 1966, the NEA's Professional Rights and Responsibility section conducted a study of how Florida's political system had affected the state's education program.  In March 1966, the national published its report which concluded that increasingly militant teachers had become concerned with the government's neglect of public education.  The findings indicated that total revenues for education from the state's general revenue fund had decreased from 54.62 percent in 1963 to 1965 to 53.7 percent of the state budget in 1965 to 1967.  That decrease came in the midst of a population explosion among school age children in Florida.  At the county level, recalcitrant school boards had aggravated local associations in Dade, Broward, and Hillsborough into imposing sanctions.  Sanctions included actions like those invoked by the Dade teachers' organizations including censure of school officials and the threatened withdrawal of summer school services.(9)

 

The report revealed serious problems in the Florida school system.  Deficiencies included inadequate teacher salaries, overcrowded classrooms, and an insufficient kindergarten program.  The report contained a list of recommendations describing how Florida's government might improve education.  Among the recommendations suggested were the levying of new taxes for education purposes, improving the local tax base, and further school reorganization.  The most serious issue, however, was that the state had never properly utilized its existing funding system.  Florida, the report maintained, had the available means to immediately improve education.(10)

 

On March 20, 1966, the FEA Board announced that Florida's teaching profession was in a state of sanctions alert.  State association officers warned government officials to correct the problems described in the NEA report and threatened to impose sanctions if the deficiencies continued beyond the 1967 legislative session.(11)  Sanctions later imposed included a censure of the governor and state legislators who supported his school program, a request that teachers not under contract to teach in Florida refrain from seeking employment in Florida until state officials provided significantly increased support for education, and notification that any educator accepting "employment in the Florida schools will be subject to changes of violation of the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession."  However, before the NEA could impose sanctions and before the 1967 legislative session, Floridians elected a new governor.

 

Miami Mayor Robert High King had defeated incumbent Governor Burns in the May 1966 Democratic primary and opposed Claude Kirk, a flamboyant Jacksonville millionaire, in the November 1966 general election.  In their campaigns neither candidate offered constructive solutions to school concerns.  King agreed that some new taxes were necessary, but he lacked a coherent education plan.  Kirk in his grandiose style produced an education white paper that promised to make Florida first in education.  Drawn directly from the NEA investigation report, it promised increased teacher salaries, an additional 4,400 classrooms, and a kindergarten system in every school district.  Kirk, however, proposed that these changes could be accomplished without implementing any new taxes.  Association leaders understood the hollowness of Kirk's pledge and endorsed King.(12)

 

Despite the FEA's opposition, Kirk won the election, becoming Florida's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.  From the beginning of his tenure, Kirk's style precipitated conflict both with the legislature and the FEA.  Wade Hopping has pointed out that Kirk was not a consensus builder; rather he would develop a plan and pursue it until he achieved his goal.  Hopping has described him as a man, "who would beat you up," or "bust your chops."  His confrontational style resulted in a battle in his first legislative session over school spending.  He effectively used the veto to block legislative proposals which would have required new taxes for increased school funding.  In that session Kirk established that he had the votes to block veto override attempts, and the veto became an integral part of his relationship with the legislature.  The regular session ended in April 1967, without an education budget.(13)

 

Angry association officials, frustrated with Kirk's tactics, imposed statewide sanctions on May 24 and requested further NEA assistance.  State sanctions included censuring the governor and national notification that Florida was an unsatisfactory place in which to teach.  In Washington, DC, NEA activists, convinced that a victory in Florida would strengthen their cause, moved to support Florida teachers.(14)

 

On June 5, the NEA Executive Committee reviewed a report prepared by the Professional Rights and Responsibility committee headed by Assistant Executive Secretary Cecil Hannan.  The committee concluded on the basis of their review that education had deteriorated further since the NEA's 1965 investigation.  NEA Executive Committee members voted to support the FEA's actions and joined in the FEA's censure of Kirk.  Association officials advised teachers not to seek positions in Florida, warning that those who did would be in violation of the Teaching Profession's Code of Ethics.(15)

 

Despite sanctions, Kirk and the legislature continued their adversarial politics during the extended legislative session in June.  Legislators seeking a compromise introduced three separate budget proposals, but the governor rejected them.  On June 29, Kirk used his line item veto power to write a state budget, one condemned by educators.(16)

 

On July 1, the NEA Board of Directors, as if in response to Kirk, reversed the association's absolute opposition to strikes.  Janet Dean, president of the Council of Urban Education Associations, was largely responsible for the new board policy.  To support local negotiations efforts that continued to prohibit NEA support for affiliate strikes, the Impasse Resolution Committee had developed an impasse proposal.  Dean, a committee member, opposed the report and wrote a minority opinion.  She led a lobbying effort that persuaded NEA directors to adopt her position.  Though Dean's language did not promote strikes, it did authorize the NEA, in the event of a strike, to "offer all of the services at its command to the affiliate concerned to help resolve the impasse."  Then Dean reported the board's action to the Florida press, suggesting that the new policy might support a Florida teachers' strike.(17)

 

William Carr announced his retirement at the 1967 Representative Assembly following the board meeting.  Sam Lambert, one of five NEA Assistant Executive Directors, replaced him as the association's Executive Secretary.  Lambert, though not as conservative as Carr, was no unionist.  Delegates at the convention passed a resolution supporting their colleagues in Florida and urging teachers not to violate the code of ethics by applying for employment in Florida.  Dr. Cecil Hannan had already left for Florida to direct the NEA's field operations in the state.(18)

 

Teacher salaries in Florida had deteriorated since 1960.  In 1967, Florida teachers earned an average of $7,200, less than the national average and below that their colleagues in Georgia and Alabama earned.

 

Hannan, working with the FEA, developed a campaign to force Kirk to call a special legislative session.  They wanted the session limited to educational funding with special attention to teacher salaries.  Hannan was assisted by thirty-five NEA organizers, and he planned a union strategy to achieve association objectives.  His campaign began with a luncheon for congressmen, at which he described Florida's school problems as the most severe in the nation.  To resolve the conflict and to save Florida's schools, Hannan proposed a meeting of influential individuals in the state, including education leaders, industrialists, the governor, and other state officials.  Kirk refused to consider such a meeting, and he warned that sanctions would not affect his decisions.(19)

 

Even before the governor's warning, Hannan realized that sanctions would not force a settlement.  He did believe, however, that sanctions had a public relations value, and he constantly reminded teachers of their unfair treatment.  When Kirk refused to meet, the association imposed additional sanctions, including an informational campaign to national businesses and industries describing the problems with Florida schools.  The national staff also began to develop a system to assist Florida's teachers in locating jobs outside the state.  While the NEA escalated its sanctions strategy, Hannan moved in a more militant direction.(20)

 

NEA policy prohibited promoting strikes, and Hannan's strategy violated that rule.  Throughout August, Hannan and his staff toured Florida seeking to intensify teacher militancy.  They focused on South Florida's urban centers, where Hannan believed there was a greater likelihood of success.  During the first week of August, he urged Pinellas County teachers to take more militant action.  Hannan warned that a statewide walkout was a distinct possibility.  He contended that "a teacher revolt was sweeping the nation and the Florida problem is the biggest education problem in the nation today."  The NEA would do whatever was necessary to save Florida's schools.  Hannan's rhetoric was a small part of a larger effort repeated in all of Florida's urban areas.  According to Hopping, NEA's only purpose was to "lather up the teachers" with the single purpose of inciting a strike.  Former FEA staff person Larry Brown concurred with Hopping.  If that was Hannan's intent, he succeeded in Pinellas County.(21)

 

On Friday August 11, Pinellas County teachers rejected a school board salary proposal.  Teacher leaders angrily announced that, "We are not willing to wait any more‑‑we are fed up with waiting for next year, the next legislative session."(22)  On August 14, the county's teachers voted 1,555 to 222 for the state's first teachers' strike and to stay out until they received an adequate salary schedule.  The school board obtained an injunction ordering teachers back to work.  Teachers returned to work on August 17, but more than 2,000 had turned over signed resignation forms to local association leaders, threatening a future strike.(23)

 

Thirty-five thousand teachers met the following week in a display of strength and solidarity at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando.  Hannan brought a $50,000 check to support whatever was necessary to obtain justice for Florida teachers.  The teachers were meeting, NEA leaders explained, because of the crisis in Florida's schools and Kirk's refusal to call a special legislative session.  National leaders, like Pinellas' teachers, contended that Florida educators were fed up, and they demanded immediate action.  While many expected teachers to call a strike, Phil Constans, the charismatic FEA Executive Secretary, told teachers, "On this day I must ask you to turn the other cheek‑‑to go the extra mile‑‑to try again."(24)  Larry Brown has suggested that teachers did not strike at that time, because Constans and others were trying "to maintain this air of respectability and professionalism."(25)  Association officials finalized a resignation strategy to circumvent the state constitution's no strike provision.  Teachers in Orlando, rather than strike, signed resignation forms and threatened a later walkout.(26)

 

Encouraged by the NEA staff, even before the Tangerine Bowl rally, Broward teachers had threatened to strike because of poor salaries.  On September 5, they acted on their threat when local association leaders submitted 2,384 signed resignation forms to the school board.  Their action closed the county schools for a week.  Strikers in Broward returned to work after gaining a paltry $158 salary increase and assurances from the school board that it would join in the demand for a special legislative session.  Again, as in Pinellas, Hannan and NEA organizers precipitated the strike.(27)

 

Teacher strikes in Pinellas and Broward and the NEA presence led to strike talk in other urban areas.  Teachers in Dade, Hillsborough, and Duval counties threatened strikes.  The FEA designated October 1 as "crisis Sunday," when teachers encouraged citizens to make on-site investigations of the schools' inferior conditions.  Thirty-five NEA organizers crisscrossed the state "lathering up" the teachers.  The combined FEA-NEA forces designated October 22, 1967 as D-Day, when teachers would meet to take a strike vote.  Kirk reacted, announcing that his "Quality Education Commission Investigation," which had not been scheduled for completion until the end of 1968, would be completed in December.  He proposed to report on his study in December and then to call a special legislative session to deal with school funding.(28)

 

After Kirk announced his intention to reconvene the legislature, the NEA lifted its sanctions as a public relations gesture.  Sanctions, after all, had not affected the governor's decision.  The NEA warned from its national office that until a final settlement was reached, the lifting of sanctions affected only its public relations component.  More important, NEA organizers remained in Florida.  Hannan insisted that NEA staff would help the governor complete his education study during the truce period.(29)

 

That truce was interrupted briefly by a three-day strike in Bay County.  Although the Bay County salary dispute was not a part of the NEA's militancy campaign, it reflected the changing mood of Florida teachers.  Teachers in Bay County had gained the courage to strike from their colleagues in Pinellas and Broward.  The strike reminded Governor Kirk of his commitment to call a special session.(30)

 

On January 13, 1968 Kirk summoned the legislature to reconvene on the 29th.  Teachers set a March 1 strike deadline to remind legislators of the seriousness of their demands.  Early in the session optimism prevailed, when the Senate passed a bill acceptable to the FEA.  But the House-Senate Conference committee cut expenditures from the original bill.  Then the conference committee proposed revenues for purposes other than education.  Militant teachers rebelled at the reductions and at the politicians' proposal to use tax money earmarked for education for non-school programs.  Kirk objected to the bill and threatened a veto, because the legislation did not contain a provision for a referendum on new taxes.  Association leaders did not wait for Kirk to act on his veto threat.  On February 16, FEA officials announced that they had activated over 35,000 resignations to take effect on the following Monday.(31)

 

Janet Dean and Pat Tornillo met with the NEA Executive Committee on February 17, in Washington, DC.  Dean and Tornillo, acting on behalf of the FEA, requested NEA strike assistance, but only if it came with no conditions.  Hannan supported their request, commenting "FEA does not want NEA to be involved unless it is willing to go all the way."(32)  Dean spoke firmly, telling the NEA committee that, "the teachers of Florida will do whatever must be done to effect the ends they seek by whatever means are available to them.  The problem is whether the NEA representatives are prepared to take the same action."(33)  NEA activists like Hannan joined with urban militants like Tornillo and Dean in Florida to transform the FEA into a militant organization, willing to strike for teacher salaries.  The issue Dean presented at that Saturday meeting was whether or not the NEA's established leadership was undergoing a similar change.(34)

 

National leaders seemed to hesitate.  Sam Lambert, obviously concerned about the NEA's taking a leadership role in the strike, asked "whether state or local staff would give visible leadership."(35)  He was assured that was the plan.  Other committee members expressed concern about finances, injunctions, and possible wildcat strikes.  During the course of the discussion, a committee member pointed out the organization's Minneapolis pledge to support affiliates that strike.  NEA Executive Committee members upheld the Minneapolis pledge, and approved the Dade leader's request.  Tornillo, Dean, and Hannan returned to Florida.(36)

 

On Monday, February 19, 1968, more than 35,000 of Florida's 58,000 educators went out on strike.  The NEA, Hopping later explained, "got the monster started and could not get it under control."(37)  Actually, the NEA militants who had provoked the walkout never made any effort to get it under control.  Bellicose national organizers, in alliance with Florida urban activists, had instigated the protest.  They had pressured FEA officials, angered by Kirk's charades, into calling for the work stoppage.  Woefully underpaid teachers who had sought improved salaries since the 1965 NEA investigation heeded the call.(38)

 

To achieve victory, the union needed to close the schools and keep them closed by preventing strikers from breaking ranks and inducing non-striking teachers to walkout.  Unionists failed in their effort to shut down the system.  Larry Brown has commented on the situation:  "Bottom line, they were never able to close the schools.  I mean that was the key issue.  The whole thing was predicated on being able to shut the schools down, and they could not do that."(39)

 

Floyd Christian, the Secretary of Education in Florida, and other state officials used unqualified substitutes and other means to keep the system open.  According to Brown, they maintained a statewide babysitting service, but the schools remained open.  Thus, parents never put pressure on local school officials to resolve the conflict with striking teachers.  Local school boards used intimidation, threats, and power to hold teachers in, and they convinced many desperate teachers to return to work.(40)  By March 7, 15,000 teachers, afraid of losing their jobs, returned to their schools.  Twenty thousand strikers remained locked in combat with government forces.(41)

 

On March 7, the education bill passed in the special session became law without the governor's signature.  The new school funding provision allocated an additional $2,170 for every classroom.  It provided teachers at the beginning of the salary schedule with pay increases ranging up to $1,000.  More experienced teachers received even larger salary increases.  Florida's average teacher salary increased from $7,216 in 1967 and 1968 to $8,130 in 1968 and 1969.  Florida teachers moved from twenty-second to thirteenth in average salary among the states.  Teachers had won the salary issue.(42) 

 

The press disputed this contention arguing that, because the legislature had passed the bill prior to the walkout, teachers would have received the increases without a strike.  The press, however, missed some crucial points.  The legislation, although passed prior to the strike, did not become effective until March 7.  Wade Hopping, the governor's closest advisor, has pointed out that Kirk had a record of "[v]etoing everything in sight,"(43) and Kirk had threatened to veto the bill, because it contained no referendum provision on new taxes.  Ultimately, Kirk did not veto the bill, because on March 7 there were still 20,000 teachers out on strike.  A veto might well have swelled the strikers' ranks.  Instead, he allowed the legislation to become law and thereby brought the strike to an end.(44)

 

On March 8, the FEA leaders called off the strike.  Total chaos occurred with the strikers' return to work.  Individual county associations began to negotiate local settlements.  Brown described Constans' anger as disorder spread:  "I mean he was totally incensed because locals like Hillsborough made their own special deals."  Teacher security demanded that teachers maintain ranks until all strikers had been guaranteed reemployment.  But the organization splintered as the strike came apart.  Vengeful school boards took retribution, refusing to rehire some strikers, demoting administrators, and in other ways harassing returning employees.  Bitterness increased as hundreds of strikers were forced to seek employment outside of Florida or in non-education fields.  The press, which had opposed the strike, decided that this post-strike chaos, bloodletting, and economic contention proved the strike had failed.(45)

 

Despite the press' epitaph, beyond increased salaries and education funding, strikers accomplished another goal.  Perhaps more important, union proponents in both the FEA and the NEA had achieved their strike objective.  In the post-strike period the NEA changed to reflect unionism rather than professionalism.  Unionism also emerged in Florida and resulted in a statewide NEA-AFT power struggle.  The NEA's conversion began at the 1968 NEA Representative Assembly.

 

Sanctions against Florida were still in effect when the 1968 NEA Representative Assembly convened in July.  Assembly delegates implemented the strike's purpose by passing a resolution making it to be association policy that the NEA support affiliate strikes.  In his opening address to the delegates, Sam Lambert proclaimed that in Florida, "We reversed a 10-year trend of educational neglect and decay," and "[w]e increased the financial outlays for education by at least $2,000 per classroom."  His remarks encouraged strike proponents when delegates debated strike policy later in the convention.(46)

 

NEA president Braulio Alonso, fired from his Tampa school administrator's position because of his role in the strike, chaired the assembly.  He symbolized Florida's struggle and the strike issue, and he must have influenced the vote.  Janet Dean led the floor fight for resolution 68-19 which approved association support for strikes, although  NEA members remained divided on the strike issue.  Some delegates still objected that strikes were unprofessional.  In the often bitter debate, Dean and her allies defeated numerous attempts to weaken and defeat the resolution.  During the debate, Dean admonished other delegates that 68-19, "      will, I believe dispel for all time this most specious of all arguments--that an individual who is a teacher, who is a citizen, and has the courage of his convictions is unprofessional or immoral."(47)

 

Dean and her allies prevailed.  The resolution in part read, "Strikes have occurred and may occur in the future.  In such instances the association will offer all of the services at its command to the affiliate to help resolve the conflict."(48)  That language came directly from the impasse procedure adopted at Dean's insistence by the NEA Board in 1967, and which later was used to gain NEA support for the Florida strike.  Activists who wanted the association to become more like a union and less like a professional association had achieved their goal.(49)

 

In 1969, the NEA strengthened its unionist position.  First, the association adopted a stronger strike policy.  Delegates also passed a resolution calling for a federal negotiations law.  Lambert spoke for the measure, "I will admit right off the bill legalizes the work stoppage in education."(50)  The association began developing plans for a political action committee to enable it to enter more effectively into the political arena.  While the association took steps into the union camp at the national level, post-strike organizational warfare also led to teacher unionism in Florida.(51)

 

During the post-strike period, organizational conflict between the FEA-NEA and AFT led the FEA into the AFT camp.  In 1968 and 1969, the AFT began to challenge the FEA-NEA in various locations across the state.  FEA leaders such as president-elect Louise Alford and board member Joe Whelpton deserted the FEA to become AFT organizers.  Tornillo and the Dade teachers association withdrew from FEA and began to promote an FEA-AFT merger.  His AFT merger position provoked a statewide conflict between the two national unions in Florida.  Tornillo and the FEA affiliated with the AFT, while the NEA established a new state organization to promote its cause.(52)

 

In the early 1990s, the battle continues between two equally divided unions in Florida.  Both groups agree on the importance of collective bargaining and strikes.  Both represent rural areas as well as urban centers.  Unions and the union conflict of the 1960s have significantly affected the Florida school system and teachers' relations with government officials for the past twenty-five years.

 

***

 

Michael Makowsky is a graduate student in labor history at Florida State University and plans to write his dissertation on the growth of teacher unionism in Florida.  He taught seven years in Michigan public schools (1965-1972) and then worked as an organizer and negotiator for the affiliate of the National Education Association in Florida (1972-1983).

 

ENDNOTES

 

1. Wade Hopping, interview with author, Tallahassee, FL, Oct. 19, 1992.

2. Phil Constans, Florida Education Association/United Centennial Tapes, Narration Tape No. 2, Tallahassee, FL, 1984.

3. Larry Brown, interview with author, Tallahassee, FL, Oct. 9, 1992.

4. Allen M. West, The National Education Association: The Power Base for Education (New York: The Free Press, 1980), 67.

5. Ibid., 70-72.

6. Ibid., 67-71.

7. Pat Tornillo, interview with author, Tallahassee, FL, Feb. 24, 1992; West, National Education Association, 47-51; CTA (Classroom Teachers Association), Request for Assistance, 1964, Records of Florida Education Association [hereafter cited as FEA Records], M86-011, Box 11, FF 24, Florida State Archives, Tallahassee, FL.

8. FEA Request for NEA Investigation, n.d., FEA Records, Box 28, FF 2.

9. Florida: A Study of Political Atmosphere as It Affects Public Education (Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1966), 1-17.

10. Ibid., 15-21, 59-65, 185-196; Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 7, 1967, 1.

11. Position Statement, Board of Directors, Mar. 16, 1966, FEA Records, Box 7, FF 9; Press Release (Sanctions), Mar. 21, 1966, FEA Records, Box 7, FF 9.

12. Wade Hopping interview; Larry Brown interview; James Cass, "Politics and Education in the Sunshine State," Saturday Review 51 (Apr. 20, 1968): 64.

13. Hopping interview; Cass, "Politics and Education," 63-65, 76-79.

14. Brown interview; "How Florida Slept: Background on the Developing School Crisis," Bob Lee private papers, Secretary Treasurer, Florida Education Association/United.

15. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings (Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1967), 357-358.

16. Atlanta Journal Constitution, Sept. 17, 1967, in Larry Brown private papers.  This particular date was missing from the microfilm collection at Florida State University; "How Florida Slept."

17. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings (Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1968), 283-284; Miami News, July 7, 1967, in FEA Records, Box 108, FF 15.

18. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings, 1967, 504-505.

19. Miami News, June 27, 1967 and Tampa Tribune, June 29, 1967, in FEA Records, Box 108, FF 15.

20. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings, 1968, 340-341, Sanctions File, Box 106, FF 1, FEA Records; St. Petersburg Times, July 22, 1967, in FEA Records, Box 108, FF 15; Atlanta Journal Constitution, Sept. 7, 1967, 1.

21. Hopping interview; Brown interview; Ft. Lauderdale Daily News, Aug. 1, 1967 and St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 2, 1967, in FEA Records, Box 108, Box 15; "Pinellas Report," Aug. 18, 1967, FEA Records, Box 106, FF 1.  Numerous other news clippings make obvious Hannan's campaign.

22. St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 11, 1967, B1.

23. St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 11, 1967, B1; Aug. 15, 1967, B1, B3; Aug. 16, 1967, B1, B3; Aug. 17, 1967, B1.

24. Florida Education 45 (Nov. 1967): 6.

25. Brown interview.

26. Brown interview; Hopping interview; Florida Education 45 (Nov. 1967): cover, 6; Clearwater Sun, Sept. 7, 1967.

27. Broward Walkout File, FEA Records, Box 106, FF 8.

28. Crisis Sunday File, Bob Lee private papers; Jacksonville Times-Union, Aug. 16, 1967, B-3; St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 9, 1967, in FEA Records, Box 106, FF 8; Florida Education, 45 (Nov. 1967): 8-9.

29. Miami Herald, Oct. 9, 1967, in FEA Records, Box 105, FF 15.

30. Bay County Walkout File, FEA Records, Box 106, FF 5.

31. "Fiscal Facts," Bob Lee private papers; "How Florida Slept," Bob Lee private papers.

32. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings, 1968, 379.

33. Ibid., 378.

34. Ibid., 1968, 378-379.

35. Ibid., 378-79.

36. Ibid., 378-379.

37. Hopping interview.

38. Ibid.; Brown interview.

39. Brown interview.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.; Hopping interview.

42. "Rankings of the States 1968," 20-24; Brown interview; Hopping interview; "Florida Teachers to Cover Nation to Tell of Teacher Lockouts," National Education Association, Memorandum, Mar. 15, 1968, personal papers of the author, 4.

43. Hopping interview.

44. "How Florida Slept," Bob Lee private papers; Hopping interview; Brown interview.

45. Kathleen Patricia Lyons, "Walkout: The 1968 Florida Teachers' Strike," (MA Thesis, Florida State University, 1975), 73-80; Brown interview.

46. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings, 1968, 16; Tampa Tribune, June 21, 1968, in FEA Records, Box 108, FF 15.

47. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings, 1968, 205.

48. Ibid., 527.

49. Ibid., 79, 203-208, 526-527.

50. National Education Association Addresses and Proceedings (Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1969), 24.

51. Ibid., 1.

52. Michael Makowsky, "Union and Disunion, Florida Teacher Unions and Collective Bargaining, 1968-1975," paper delivered at the Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Florida College Teachers of History Conference, Wakulla Springs, Mar., 9, 1991, 2-3, 11-20.

 

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