But what struck me as impressive and concrete was Jordan's call for an "Action Army" to include rank-and-file members of the Union across the city. The details of this group are scarce at the moment but from my understanding it will encourage participants to attend various education-related events across the city and include the PFT voice somehow.
During the Q&A portion of the evening one teacher asked how much influence teachers might have on these "actions," from choosing which events might be included to what should be said in them. From my understanding, that is not necessarily how Jordan wants the Action Army to actualize. His answer was noncommittal and made clear that the PFT would be telling members where to go and what to do.
Of course, one of the other questions relayed just how serious these negotiations are - one member simply asked, "can we strike?"
This issue arose in October 2000 as well when the PFT almost struck for similar reasons (loss of benefits, wage reductions). Then, as now, we are affected by Act 46 - a law prohibiting the PFT from striking. If teachers were to walk out of their jobs, they would risk their certificates being revoked by the PA Department of Education. Jerry Jordan was very clear to emphasize that this is the what the law says and what could happen.
My questions is: what if teachers really decided it was time to strike? What if the contract negotiations do not go the way we want them to? Could we, collectively, tell the PFT leadership that a strike is necessary? I truly wonder how much influence teachers have on the leadership of our Union and how much they will listen to us when necessary.