Interview with Albert Shanker

Okay, now, fall of '67, uh, there, there's a strike that's, that, that happens, and it's called in September. Um, I'm interested, what was your reaction when McCoy, Rhody McCoy and the governing board decided to keep the schools open during that fall '67 strike, particularly in light of this coalition that, that you had been trying to achieve.


Well I, ah, everybody, the whole management of the school system was trying to keep it open, it was kind of silly because Mayor Lindsay was trying to keep it open. Mayor Lindsay told me, most teachers are not going to go out on strike. This is a good salary increase and, ah, he said only thirteen thousand showed up to vote, the other people are going to go in and, ah, he didn't understand the union. But, never the less, the position of the Superintendent of Schools, the Board of Education, the Mayor, was, during all strikes, that we are going to keep our schools open. And, ah, so I was not surprised when, ah, when Rhody McCoy said the same thing. After all he was, ah, an administrator in the schools system, as far as I was concerned. What did shock me was that in, in other schools, it just meant, we're going to open the door and we hope the teachers will come in but we're not going to go out and threaten them. Ah, and any kids who were around can come in and then the principals were given the right to close the schools if it was dangerous, that is if all the kids were there and there weren't any teachers there. Ah, but what happened with McCoy was that it was not just a routine, ah, following of the directive to have the school door open and hope that some teachers would come in, or even to try to hire, all the schools tried to hire parents. Ah, the parents worked for one day and then they left very, very quickly. Ah, but the, ah, the problem with, ah, with McCoy in his district was the, ah, the threats against teachers. "If you don't come in, we don't want you back." "Ah, we're going to call the local draft board, ah, your job here is keeping you out of Vietnam. You got out on strike, your choice is, you either scab and come in here or you're going to Vietnam." So it was a kind of bitterness, a kind of pressure. It wasn't just the, the bureaucrats saying, "Yeah, we're going to keep the place open." It was, ah, it was the kind of stuff that, ah, the worst anti-union employers used, which had by and large just, you know this was not the first strike in New York City, ah.