Red for Ed joins unions at Labor Day picnic

Fighting for more money in the classroom

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The annual Labor Day picnic at the Reid Park band shell in Tucson had a new member this year.

Tucked in between the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and ASFME, was Red for Ed, the teachers movement formed in Arizona in the spring to advocate to teacher raises and more classroom spending.

Red T-shirts dotted the hundreds who attended the picnic as the Red for Ed movement tried to put the disappointment of a recent court decision that kicked its proposition, InvestInEd off the ballot.

"We're not done, we've got a lot of work to do," said 15-year veteran teacher Marivel Yanez. "But we're prepared to do it."

Yanez teaches young children, this year 29 5-year olds in TUSD.

"It's difficult," she said. "We have to learn vocabulary, math and they have to learn to read by the end of the school year."

She laments she can't spend enough time with them individually. But that's the norm and she says it is not fair to the students. She believe a fair classroom size would be about 20 students.

Yanez also has a master's degree in administration, but has chosen to teach instead.

"It's what I love to do," she said. "I don't make anywhere near what people who have the same education I do make, not even near."

Teaches did get a raise because of the Red for Ed walkout but it amounts to a few dollars, according to Yanez.

The teachers joined other unions at the picnic lamenting the lack of a livable wage.

"Give us a better opportunity and better wages," said Monica Delacamp, a service worker who had three children. "Something that actually helps us pay our bills at the end of the day and not struggle paycheck to paycheck."

Whether Red for Ed ends up as an ongoing union movement, much of the tactics it is using to further its cause are union tactics.

"We are better when we are organized," said Paul Smith, Chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation. "It's what we do well and its the best for all of us."

As for Red for Ed's success he said "It's an example when organized labor working together with the greater community is able to achieve fair and equitable outcomes."

Even so, a State Supreme Court majority ruled Proposition 207, the #InvestInEd school financing initiative, was confusing and ruled it off the ballot.

Rather than concede defeat, the movement will continue its aggressive stance.

"We're all over the place," said Yanez. "What a lot of people don't realize, what a lot of politicians don't realize, we may not have money for fancy commercials but we have manpower."

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