top of page

Strike In Mt. Markham

By J.N. Cheney

In several cases of radical action taken in West Winfield, the student population in some capacity were at the forefront of whatever battle was in question.

The 1934 walkout was perpetrated entirely by students, and the 1970 tree cutting protests saw a handful of Mt. Markham students arrested for blocking Department of Transportation workers from cutting said trees.

In 1975 though, it was time for the teachers to get their hands dirty in the fight against unjust deals and practices.

Throughout much of 1975, the Mount Markham Teachers Association was embroiled in lengthy and tumultuous negotiations with the Mount Markham Central School Board of Education.

As reported in January of that year, negotiations between the MMTA and the School Board were to be opened regarding a contract for the 1975-76 school year.

Some reports are in conflict, with one piece saying negotiations began in February and another saying they started in March, but regardless of the start date, negotiations would prove to turn into a protracted struggle.

Come July, after four or five months of contract negotiations, the two parties had officially reached an impasse in their talks.

With the primary issue being that of the monetary nature, the MMTA and the MMCS Board requested that a mediator/fact finder be brought in to help in reaching some kind of resolution.

In the meantime, the teachers did make it clear that they would still report to work upon the opening of school in that coming fall, despite not having a contract signed at the time.

This was done for the sake of acting in “good faith.”

The prospect of acting/negotiating in “good faith” is one that would become a source of contention at a later point in this conflict.

Outside of the general butting of heads seen in this struggle, there existed a prevalent anxiety for those involved in this fight.

The MMTA stated that while it was not fully recommended to engage in strike action, the possibility of an actual strike existed if mediation and fact- finding couldn’t bring about a settlement after all is said and done.

This anxiety existed in two forms, the first of course being the possibility of a strike.

The other source of unease stems from the fact that as stated by the MMTA’s crisis committee, reported by the Star, this is the first time that teachers have had to work while still negotiating a contract after the passing of the New York State Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act, otherwise known as the Taylor Law.

Passed in 1967, one of the tenets of the Taylor Law is that public employees became prohibited from participating in a strike.

Though they were apprehensive, the Teachers Association was willing to take on the risk that this law presented if absolutely necessary.

Approximately two weeks before the school year was to start, a fact finder/mediator was finally assigned to aid in the Mount Markham


The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

bottom of page