Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Sit Back or Fight Back?

"Thank you sir, may I have another?" is the go-to response for a lot of members have when they face abusive administrators. I can't tell you how many times people have complained bitterly to me about this or that, only to refuse to have their names associated with any remedy. Sometimes they think that I should be able to fix things without their cooperation. Sometimes I can, but often not.

I'm not sure where the instinct to roll up like a little ball and hope no one sees you comes from. I know there are animals that do that, and I suppose it must work for them. Animals have great instincts. Our instincts are dulled from a modern world full of flashy and glittery things, full of video games that seem more exciting than our lives. Some students see no need to develop any discipline for anything whatsoever. Why should they, when they can play Call of Duty for 12 hours at a stretch? Some of us are essentially the same.

So we go to work every morning, teach whatever damn thing we're told to, using whatever method dictated to us, and then we marvel when supervisors tell us, "Hey, that thing you're doing? It sucks." For my money, the appropriate response is, "Well, why the hell did you ask me to do it then?" I really would like an answer, but usually there isn't one. And even if there were, the supervisor could say that was then, this is now. Yesterday you needed to do this, but today you need to do that.

Sometimes, when people are under attack, they're afraid even to talk to me. What if someone sees me consulting with my union rep? They'll think I'm union, and then I'll be in even more trouble. No one wants more trouble. So these people will either ask for secret meetings, a tough request in a preposterously overcrowded building, or say nothing until the crap really hits the fan.

I'm not sure why people do that. To my mind, standing with the union says hey, you can attack me, but I will fight back. I will enlist the help of my brothers and sisters and everyone else I can possibly think of and make this as uncomfortable for you as I possibly can. To me, that's a better message than please don't hurt me.

Bullies smell fear. They pounce on it. They use it. If they were attacking you at 100% today, and think you're still afraid, they will attack you at 200% tomorrow. Who knows where that will take them in a week?

I've seen people take on admin and win. They did this by pulling together as one. We do this every day, because that's what we are. That's what union is. If your administrators are abusive and hates union, it's my job and yours to make them hate it even more. Make them wake up in the middle of the night and worry about how to deal with us.

Alternatively, you can wake up in the middle of the night and worry about how to deal with them. That's hurtful and counter-productive. You need to stand up to bullies. You need to hit them back. You need to stand with your union and have everyone hit them back. You never cower.

It's a cliche that the only thing we need to fear is fear itself, but like a lot of cliches, there's truth in it. An injury to one of us, though, is an injury to all. We will feel the injury, but we need not invite another. We can stand tall and fight back.

If bullies are coming at you, or me, or your friend, they won't stop because they see we're compliant. Count on follow-up after follow-up. As long as they're doing that, we may as well fight back with every means at our disposal, and we may as well unite with everyone who will stand with us. I don't know about you, but I cannot for the life of me see the point in going down without a fight. Anyone wanting to take me down will know every sort of fight I can imagine, and I have yet to begin imagining.
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