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A Special Message - We Will Not Be Silenced


This issue’s cover story is about preventing retirees from being swindled out of their financial resources. Many of us know someone who has spent years recovering from losses at the hands of those who will say or do anything to take their hard-earned money.

As we all know, this is happening on a much grander scale, too. The attacks on worker’s rights going on in states across the country and especially in the Midwest are thinly veiled efforts to make working class families pay for tax breaks for big corporations and the nation’s wealthiest citizens. But protesters who are turning out by the tens of thousands are proving that politicians can’t just call it “budget reform” and do what they will to the livelihood of public workers.

Every time I hear a talking head comment on the public worker’s “outrageous” or “enormous” pension I really get angry.  They use the few examples where pensions have spiked and ignore the fact that the average pension for a public employee retiree, is very modest.

As I write this column, legislation that would negatively affect or eliminate collective bargaining is on the table or expected in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

No matter what side of the aisle you support, we have a common interest in defending the rights of middle class Americans to make a living. As NEA President Dennis Van Roekel recently wrote for NEA’s political activist site, Education Votes:

“Growing the middle class—educators, nurses, and firefighters—is crucial to growing and sustaining our economy. Workers, acting together through their unions, are the last best defense against the attacks on the middle class.  And without unions, these attacks will go unanswered.

We will not bow to individuals and special interests who want to dismantle the rights of working people and the stability of middle class families. Working people need more power, not less. We need a stronger voice.  And we need to build the labor movement because America cannot have a middle class without unions. We will not be silent or denied.”

Read the rest of his piece and stay informed about important policy issues that affect public education online at

There are things you can do to keep our elected officials in check. Visit,, and, where you can also register as a volunteer. Sign NEA’s petition to protect workers’ rights. Contact your governor and representatives and let them know that we will not be silenced or denied. Our families’ and students’ futures are on the line.

—Barbara Matteson

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