36,000 Sign Petition for Workers’ Rights. Are You on the List?

By Lance Fuller

As protests in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget repair bill enter their third week, Education Votes has offered a national online petition to support Wisconsin teachers’ and public employees’ right to collectively bargain.

As of Wednesday, March 2, about 36,200 people from around the country have signed the petition to support those in Wisconsin.

Recognizing that what happens in Wisconsin will affect labor relations nationwide for years to come, Janet Yakopatz signed the petition.

“Any state could be next, and if we are not willing to stand up for and with others across state borders, who will stand up for ‘me’ when the time comes?,” said Yakopatz.

“I cannot speak for anyone else in my state, but as an Oregonian I am supporting these protests because I know full well that what is happening across the country could easily happen here,” Yakopatz, a six-year veteran English high school teacher from Talent, Ore., said. “I want to make a stand now before it becomes an issue, and I want to help others like me.”

Wisconsin resident and small business owner Alex Roup recently signed the petition as well. Although he is not a teacher and has traditionally considered himself a conservative who tends to lean Republican, Roup feels that Walker’s proposal is underhanded and a manipulation of Wisconsin residents for political gain.

“Public employees are being singled out financially to burden the budget shortfall that is not the fault of public workers, but the mismanagement of the state’s reserves and investments,” Roup said. “I will never trust the GOP and will take note of each and every ‘representative’ that is putting an ideology ahead of the good of the state I so dearly love.”

Since signing the petition, Yakopatz and Roup have spread the word about it on Facebook and Twitter.

Make your voice heard. Sign our national petition below.


~ We Pledge To Stand With America’s Educators, School Support Staff And Workers ~

We believe that educators, school support staff, nurses, firefighters and other middle class workers are essential to the well-being and safety of our families and communities.

We believe that working Americans need to use the strength of our numbers to fight for better wages and benefits, job security and safer workplaces.

We believe that the attacks happening in state after state are more of the same old partisan politics in which whatever party is in power tries to hurt the other side.

We believe that while we suffer, the same politicians support tax breaks for corporations and CEOs. Politicians know unions are a check on corporate power, so they are working to weaken or eliminate them.

To fulfill the promise of workers’ role in restoring balance to our economy, protecting and growing the middle class, and sustaining our communities, we urge governors and politicians to:

  • Meet with educators and other public employees to find fair and sensible solutions that are in the best interests of the nation’s middle class, children and families.
  • Stop the power struggle. We need balance that brings our leaders together to create quality jobs and solves the problems hurting middle class families across the country.
  • Do their share by cutting their own high salaries, pensions and perks before asking frontline, middle class workers to sacrifice even more in wage and benefit cuts.
  • Solve the problems of the middle class instead of giving even more power to the corporate CEOs who got them elected.
  • Remember that public employees are our neighbors and friends. They are educators, firefighters, social workers, and police officers. They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution. It’s important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow they are the cause of state budget problems.
Disclaimer: We do not share the information you’ve given us with unaffiliated groups without your explicit permission. We will not make any of your information publicly available, but we may transmit it to members of Congress and to the President as part of a petition. Education Votes and affiliated groups may send you updates on this and other important campaigns by email. If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from our email list, you may do so.

Reader Comments


    The legislature in Missouri want to abolish tenure for teachers. How about term limits for the legislature folks as well.

    If teachers have no tenure and 1 to 3 year terms, I say give representatives and legislatures a ONE TERM LIMIT.

    It takes one term to learn how to deceive the public and become a crook.

    One term limits would make this less likely.

    Why should they have as many terms as they want and teachers not.

    In Missouri, legislatures overuled a law that the voters of the state approved of.

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Whose state is it anyway?

    I say we give them only ONE TERM.

  2. Ironically, this is “teacher appreciation week” as Florida congress votes tomorrow to impose an additional state tax of 3% on teachers in the guise of reduced retirement benefit contributions.

  3. My question is simply this: Who will teach our children if we blame teachers for all the world’s problems and then punish them by taking away everything they have fought to gain?
    Will you do it? (This question is not for the educators among us, but rather for folks like parents or senior citizens not affiliated with education.)

    I personally know teachers who spend so much time doing all the extra work outside school they can’t get done while working at school.
    Would you do that? (Again, a question not for those affiliated with education.)

    Likewise, I know ESPs who work and work trying to get it right for the kids and other educators for no compensation.
    Will you do their work as well? ( Again, a question not for the educators.)

    Throwing those stones cannot work if you know not a thing about the work done by Teachers and ESPs. Just think about it!

    How could the politicians possibly KNOW our work?

    1. It is a very sad state of affairs in the USA when such a large group of our population do not do their research, but blindly follow ignorant, selfish and self-serving politicians who cannot or will not see that the middle class are NOT the bad guys who have left our world bankrupt. We hear about how America has fallen behing the rest of the world in education, now we see it first hand when people cannot think for themselves or use logic. The people who work the hardest are the ones being penalized and disrespected, yet the American voters just keep on voting in these incompetent stooges who are only interested in their own POWER.

      1. Watch INSIDE JOB, a very insightful film. What we see unfolding in the US is the result of greed, stemming from the joining of powerful corporations and the government. The result of this boundless greed will be a huge disparity in wealth. The middle class will fade out of existence, and two classes will remain, the very wealthy and the rest of us. America is well on its way to becoming a Third World country.

  4. We became teachers to help children learn and because we genuinely love kids. Though it is getting harder and harder to remember that with the way we have been treated lately, I try to hold onto that fact and it helps smooth out the rough spots and hurt feelings. 🙂

  5. Read “Grapes of Wrath” again to remind us why we fight for workers rights!!!
    When the government begins to even the playing field with wealthy banks, corporations, and private companies/individuals…then we can give up some of our protections.

  6. I met with two Democratic senators in Boston yesterday and neither is willing to help support our collective bargaining rights…Why are they so scared??

  7. When our abused, overworked and underpaid teachers give up, throwing their hands in the air in despair, vexation and exhaustion at the apparent apathy and dismissal of the governing forces in both state and federal elected offices, we are then in for the horrific, irreversible awakening of a state of decline that will be felt by all people of all economic backgrounds.
    We pay the people who educate what they are worth. Happily and gratefully. That, or we face the repercussions ~ a population reared in ignorance.
    This principle applies equally to all who serve the greater good of society. If we do NOT stand up to the powers that think-they-be now, in absolute earnest and with total resolute unity, we will live to rue the day. The day(s) to come. And they will. Unless we unite to offer complete support, and right now, this very minute, society as this great country has known it will simply cease to exist.
    Fear of meteors hitting the planet? an apocalyptic asteroid? December 21, 2012? Think again, think clearly and fear RIGHT NOW. And stand up TO the people who doubt the critical importance of these dedicated professionals and stand up FOR the folks who shape our youth, protect our citizens and embody the safety and comfort that we have all come to expect and that we all most certainly deserve. Make certain your elected officials do not draw their purse strings closed (or rather OUR purse strings) when it comes to fair pay for the critical jobs being done by these people!!!

  8. The dumbing down of America. We should be marching in the streets against the union busting activity in Florida. Why is America So passive to the loss of human worker rights? What is it going to take to wake up America? We fight in other countries for democracy and we take it away from our own teachers? Wake up America!

  9. As a teacher in Florida and additionally, a union member for 34 years, I have seen a lot. What the average Floridian whom is eeking out a living in this “slave” state does not realize, is that the powers at the top, from the Bush brothers to the Koch boys; wants us “middle class” folks to eat each other alive. It’s sad that many of these good people just do not understand how they are being used by the right. From the ridiculous stories pandered about teachers; to the more absurd laws being rammed through at warp speed; the “truth” just gets lost in the verbage. To believe that most of us professional educators just work nine months and sit drinking cocktails is just silly.To financially survive here, even in what is supposed to be one of the more affluent public school systems in our state, I have had to work full time every summer, for my entire career. Also,to believe that now all of the sudden, they are going to pay teachers’ on some “value added” ladder is ludicrous at best. This state is broke. Does not tax anyone fairly, and in this county, we have not had a raise in three years. I truly believe that we can take back this system, if we can just stop fighting each other, and fight these fat cats that have writhed their way into political power.

    1. I am sorry to hear about the state of education and the appreciation of educators in the state of Florida. I am afraid that New Jersey will soon be following suit as a result of our esteemed governor and his charge that teachers are over-paid and under-worked professionals. I am truly worried!

    2. I am a State employee from New Jersey – my mother and grandmother were teachers and educators – I saw first hand the long hours after class that teachers work that no one talks about. I saw teachers, firefighters and police officers being vilified by the so called “liberal” press as being overpaid and the cause of the nation’s economic problems!! I was very moved by the numbers of teachers and other public workers from all over the country who came to our defense on June 23rd, 2011. I believe that people who chose to protect our communities, teach our future leaders and help the disadvantaged and unemployed are special; we are passionate about serving our communities! Pray for our country – and for all those whose jobs serve the greater good!

  10. Teachers, firefighters, emergency responders and the police provide essential services. They enable us to create and maintain a safe environment for our children and our community. Their role in our society ensures all of us a higher quality of living.
    Why then do we choose to cripple these professionals by depriving them of the essential funding they need to perform their jobs well, and take care of their families?
    Cutting funding to these services essentially cripples EVERYONE in the long run.

  11. It should not be forgotten that public employees are not the blame for the financial ills that have befallen the states. The blame for the downfall in our economy rests solidly with Wall Street, along with the deregulation that brought it about. Once again, the middle class is asked to give and give and give while Wall Street continues to rake in billions in bonuses. What would be wrong with seizing the bonuses and giving them to the states for starters!

  12. Someone is trying to turn the middle class against itself! It is a brilliant move to take the attention away from those who actually caused this crisis.The public employees did not cause this economic problem. It was the greedy bankers and Wall Street, yet they are not being verbally attacked or losing their benefits and rights. They still receive their bonuses and high salaries.
    The public employees who are the middle class, who are the back bone of this nation and any nation, are in jeopardy. A nation is as strong as its middle class. Look at all the struggling but rich nations who are not succeeding. It is because they do not have a strong middle class. History proves this. Do not destroy our middle class. Give them what they have worked for all these years. It is the right thing to do.

    1. They are trying to turn the middle class on itself and we have to fight to stop this. Public workers are the support of any society. When we become the target of global economic downturn, it’s essential we stand together no matter where we live. We need to save the middle class. We need to save unions. We will have no voice if those 2 things fall apart.

  13. I have a good friend who worked at a charter school in California for the past 4 years. On the last school day in December, 2010, as the students had left for the holiday break, and as the teachers were all setting up the potluck, she was called over by the principal and told that this was her last day.

    My best friend, who happens to be her husband, is a colleague of mine. We both teach science at the same public high school in California. I was helping her husband put in a new kitchen window. He got the call from her that they were just letting her go after 4 years. This was not a good Christmas present for them and their family; however, it did leave a job opening for a family member of the charter school administrator. Meanwhile the new teacher will likely not fill my friend’s shoes; she was the academic decathlon coach, she taught 3 different social studies preps., she was the new teacher mentor, and she tutored before and after school for no extra pay.

    This is just one good reason why we need a voice in order to be treated fairly. Charter schools do not need to treat their employees like professionals and they do not need to be fair. If this keeps occurring, there will be no one going into the teaching profession and education in America will suffer.

    This is also just further evidence that Charter schools do not work better than public schools that are held to high standards and that are governed by locally elected school board members. There is no accountability for charters. Just google the failed California Charter Academy. In its hay day it was the largest operator of charter schools in California and it was allowed to function with almost zero accountability, until it ran itself into the ground, taking millions of tax payer funds along with it.

    1. If you live in Florida, get a group of like minded people and start it yourselves. There is a lot of support for throughout the country.

  14. As a retired educator, now 62 years old myself, I’ve watched the educational wheel turn and turn. I’ve watched and been an educator who tolerated what was thrown on us “from above”, i.e. legislative action by non-educators who claimed to know what was going on in public schools and how to fix the problem. Then I’ve seen educators blamed for failing schools when the teachers didn’t choose the overall direction education would follow, the government did. Surely educators need some rights! When I painted the cupboards in our first house, my husband thought he should choose the color and I should do the painting, sound familiar? Well, it does to educators: someone else chooses the colors, we do the painting and then it’s our fault the “color” turns out badly. Schools are rewarded for raising Istep scores and then punished because they didn’t raise them as much as the year before…… Istep, or whatever the state’s testing program is called, is deemed the educational god of progress……….. The right brain is all but discarded in favor of facts……. maybe we can produce little robots with perfect scores who are “all the same” in terms of their education………. If every child’s brain was wired the same, that might make sense……

    Heaven help our educators. My daughter hasn’t received a raise in 15 years. Any small increase gets taken by increases in medical insurance…… She and her husband are both excellent teachers, but can barely afford to be and raise three children………. They have both received Eli Lilly awards and other educational honors, but hey all of the testing has driven her out of a conventional language arts classroom where her students were engaged (writing books and sending letters to the editor) and driven her to teach art. A friend’s daughter who teaches early elementary said her students used to play school, now they play testing!

    I think you’d be amazed at this nation’s public schools if you allowed teachers to have a voice in what goes on. Starting over and throwing money somewhere else, i.e. vouchers or charter schools, is NOT the answer! Wake up to the wiring in childrens’ brains and address it and compliment and support our teachers and see what happens!

  15. My dear Lisa, I believe that TEACHER BASHING has always existed, however this past few years the movement has gained momentum through people’s ignorance….SALARY: renowned as being the lowest for people acquiring a college degree as compared to people opting for the private sector.Teaching takes a special kind of dedication and many bypass salary in favor of accomplishing their desire to teach hoping to be rewarded by a pension , to which they contribute and whose funds are often mismanaged by the governor of the period and NEVER reinstated after the expiration of his or her turn in office .Then comes the greatest fallacy of all…SHORT DAYS….:Teachers are confined to their a classroom with 1/2 hour lunch break and in many instances “having PLAY GROUND duty..After children are dismissed, there are papers to grade, record and average, plan book to write and lessons to prepare for the next day… PTA meetings as well as School Board meetings to attend….WORKS ONLY 10 months with 2 months off for which THEY ARE NOT PAID and are not permitted to receive unemployment benefits.And in many cases teachers are required to attend seminars, lectures and attend classes in order to keep current.
    The most troublesome is TENURE…which is obtained after 3 years during which the principal is required to observe teachers formally and evaluate their performance in writing and said performances are kept in the teacher’s file which is the school private property . There after the principal observes teachers formally once a year but takes the prerogative to visit the class room any time they want sneaking in with their “Hush Puppies” and taking in your attitude as well as the kid’s. AND YES…School Boards DO FIRE Bad Teachers….After all isn’t the teaching profession rated as the second most stressful profession just after aviation controllers?????

  16. It is distressing how educational systems are being destroyed when they represent hope for the middle and poor classes. An ignorant population is one which prepares its own grave.

  17. With good grades, high test scores, a well-rounded education, and enthusiastic interviews, I won a 4-year full academic scholarship to attend undergraduate school at a great university. I was 18 years old, I had many interests, and I was very excited to learn. I had the opportunity to major in any field that I desired, with the school picking up the tab. I chose education. I went on to earn bachelors and masters degrees in education, and this is now my ninth year teaching. I love teaching, but for a while now, I have been rethinking my chosen profession.

    I am very disheartened and disturbed by what I see and hear coming from our political leaders and media… and then by the things that I do NOT see and hear coming from the schools and community. Where is all this headed? Doesn’t anybody care? The recent events in Wisconsin and elsewhere point toward a grim future not just for education, but for our country as a whole and (unlike the protestors in Wisconsin) many people are largely ignoring, or worse yet supporting (knowingly or unknowingly), the undermining of public education, and therefore of a productive middle class, in our country. Don’t they realize the effect of this? I am intensely disappointed by the positions and decisions put forward by elected representatives at all levels; by the hostile climate the media perpetuates; and by the lack of concern from the very school workers and community members who have the most to lose in this debacle. I realize this message reeks of negativity, but for now, my hope for a better future lies only with the young students with whom I work, and by the time they hold the power to make changes for a positive future, it may be too late for our country to regain its losses. As the most competent, qualified, creative, caring, successful teachers see their services continually devalued by their schools, communities, media, and government officials at every level, they will seek to put their talents to use elsewhere. Among its other atrocious effects, the current attack on public workers and teachers will inevitably drive the best teachers away. I can say so, because I am one of them.

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