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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
subject: Jack Stevens
Interviewer: Arthur White
W: ....is Assistant Executive Secretary for the Florida Education
Association. What year were you, Mr. Stevens?
S: 950 to 1972.
W: From 1950 through 1972. Mr. Stevens is now going to give us some
S: Uh, I entered education in 1932, up in Jackson County, where I
was a teacher for one year and then I became a principal of a
smqll rural junior high school. After spending several years
there, I went back to the University of Florida, got my master's
degree, and went back to Jackson County, where I became assistant
principal of the Marianna High School. I served in that capacity
untilAoh, about 1946 or so, and then I was, became principal for
a short time of the high school, then was promoted to the general
supervisor of the county. I stayed there several years and
I believe it was in about 1948 I came to the department of
education as one of the field supervisors. And, uh, stayed with
them until September of 1950, when I came with the F.E.A. as
assistant executive secretary, and I've been, served in that
capacity up until my, well, you might say a retirement in '72.
W: Um hmm. W4W--e were you born, Mr. Stevens?
S: I was born in Jackson County, in Marianna.
W: What year were you born?
W: Would you give us some of your general ideas on the Florida
education crisis, and how it accrued, and general statements, and
HFE 12A 2
W: then from here we can discuss particular questions.
S: Well, I guess it was early in '66, or during '66, a good number
of F.E.A. leaders became concerned about the, the neglect of the
public schools in Florida, and as that concern grew, they finally
invited the N.E.A. to come in and make-a study, which they did,
and made a report. And by the way, you may need to get a copy
of that if you do not have that N.E.A. report, which points out,
points up some of the problems, and some of the, the failures
of the legislature to meet the needs of, of education in Florida.
Uh, following that report, pretty soon after the report came out,
the then executive secretary, Ed Henderson, who had been with
F.E.A. since about 1948 or '49, retired, and following his retirement
Dr. Phil Constans was selected by the board to become the executive
W: Do remember anything about how he was selected#adYd WQ ler
S: Well, at,.at the beginning, prior to his selection, well, he was
brought in to serve for a while while Ed was still, Ed Henderson
was still the executive secretary.
W: And how long that?
S: Oh, I'd say less than a year, and then he took over the executive
secretary when Ed did retire.
W: Um hmm. Did Ed retire because of the, there's a change in this
organization. Under Ed Henderson, it was one kind of organization.
W: By the time Phil is coming in here, it's a more militant organization.
Can you attribute that change just to the conditions of education
in Florida, or were there some other factors?
HFE 12 A 3
S: Well I think the conditions of education, generally. The philosophy
changed somewhat, and some of the, as we, as more and more men
came into the teaching profession, I think there was more of a
demand for more militant action. Uh, course Ed had served for
twenty years, a bit more than twenty, I guess, and he had reached)
I believe, sixty-five, and so he, he retired, at.his I think
his, pretty close to his sixty-fifth birthday. But I think
the board, the F.E.A. board was, was conscious, and they knew
Phil. Phil was f past president of the F.E.A., they knew his
philosophy. I suppose Phil was one of the youngest presidents that
we ever had, but they, they knew pretty well what they wanted.
They, they gave consideration to other people, they advertised the
position pretty widely, and they interviewed a good many people,
but I think from the beginning, they had more or less made the,
the board's, many members of the board had in mind that Phil had
the right philosophy that they were looking for.
W: Is this correct, what Ed Henderson says, that the board changed
the by-laws so that the organization had a different emphasis
from one of general education and concerns about education to
one of particular concerns about the needs of teachers, and further
changed the by-laws so that Ed, that Phil Constans could not sit
as a member of the board, but was an employee only? Do you remember
S: The by-laws were changed, and I'm not so sure about the first
part, my recollections not too good about that, but about that time,
I don't know whether it was before Ed retired or right after he
retired, the by-laws were changed where the executive secretary
HFE 12A 4
S: was no longer a member of the, a voting member of the board of
x-eOcS- That's, that's correct.
W: All right. Let's talk further about what Mr. Henderson said.
Mr. Henderson says further that he began to get the impression
he was still lobbying and still active during, oh, let's say,
up through August, so you're up here, you're in the sanction
you're in the sanction alert, you've got two kinds of sanctions,
you've had legislative information day, with 2,000 people present,
remember all this, and Ed had lobbied two times. There were
two things that really upset him. One thing was in 1966, he had
worked out the outlines of a professional negotiations agreementui-f
the schoolboard association. But he said that this agreement
was up to be settled on amicable terms, with some kind of official
type of negotiations, but not with arbitration. And he says that
one of the militants of the F.E.A. from Pinellas County,a Janet AITori
APS* I believe her name was....
S: Louise Alford.
W: Louise Alford, (ame on the floor and demanded arbitration and
destroyed the agreement, he was angry about that. Then he moves
into the legislature in '67, he has the votes in committee, and
on the floor to override the governor's veto of a bill that would
fulfill all the objectives of the F.E.A. a& which Phil Constans
himself says that that certainly would please us and wouldn't have
much grounds for opposition to the governor or to the state of
Florida if they pass such a bill. I republican and democratic
votes to override the veto. However, the F.E.A. moved to sanctions
before the governor could veto the bill, and they could test this
HFE 12A 5
W: commitment. Henderson says that in his, in his mind, the F.E.A
leadership, directors or Constans planned to strike all along,
never were willing to compromise, never, no matter what the state
of Florida did, they were going to strike. And the plan was,
when was the timing. In other words, they wanted to try it. Is
this an incorrect appraisal?
S: Well, I think in the minds of many people that they, the did want
to do it. And I don't, one of the reasons that I would-think
that they were determined was, after that bill had passed the
house, 'cause I felt at that time, and expressed my feeling that
we should wait until the governor vetoed the bill before we
actually called the people out. We had a mandate from the delegate
assembly that we would either, we, we would give the legislature
and the government until March first.. And so I appealed to them
at that time to wait until March first, feeling that if the
governor did veto the bill, then we'd have a lot of the leadership
on our side that we would lose if we went out before that time.
I thought that, that, for instance, we had many county superintendents
who were very sympathetic and many, many principals and people
of the, above the classroom level. And I had the feeling that
if the governor vetoed the bill, then we could, we could go with
more strength. And especially since we'd been told that he was,
did intend to veto it. Now, the night that after the bill had
passed the house, Commission of Christian came over here and met
with a group of about twelveA fifteen leaders. He brought with
him his chief financial advisor, who sat with the leadership of
F..E.A. and explained what the bill did. And he told those people
HFE 12A 6
S: at that time,that, just what was in the bill, and he said, "I
want to be frank with you If, we think this is a good bill,
and if you decide to, to activate the resignations with this
bill having already passed the legislature, I'll have to oppose
you. And I'll have to take the position that, I'll have to explain
it, what, what's really in the bill money-wise to the county
superintedents." And he says, "I'll be calling them in Friday."
And so they heard him out very courteously....
W: What day was that, now?
S: Well it seems to me4it was a Friday.
Ame JiJ k;dh cd\ tv"
W: A4d hpe' be- caJlin-iJg- the following Friday to ?
S: I'm not sure about the timing on that, but I do, do recall
that after they heard him out and asked a few questions, and I
asked question, how would you feel if the governor vetoed the
bill? Well, he didn't make any reply except he said we'd have to,
he'd have to wait, and he didn't have to make a decision on that
at that time. So after the commissioner and his representative
left, we went around the table, and each person was asked what
they thought, and there was practically no discussion. I, I
raised the point about, at that point, I raised the issue about
the veto, and, and suggested the possibility of waiting until we
had been, to March first, when we had a mandate from the delegate
assembly to walk.
W: What is the story on March first, the delegate assembly?
S: The delegate assembly had passed at our convention that, that
we wait no later than March first to take action. If we had
not accomplished what the objectives was, as. of March the first,
HFE 12A 7
S: that would settle it. Many people had thought when we had the
big rally in Orlando in the Tangerine Bowl in August that then
we should have gone. That was before the schools had actually
started, and some people had, made, they felt that they could
go with a clearer conscience when the kids weren't in school.
And then some people thought they should have delayed the opening
of schools, and so then, some people were impatient. Now, in
spite of what's been said, the plans had been pretty carefully
laid, and the, the moving picture had been made, the organization
had been set up, including a telephone chain, and all of this
was in readiness, you see. And many of the people thought that/
some of the more militant people thought that we should have gone
earlier, and they were very impatient, and then some of the people
felt, well,Aconceded that some of the people, but they were afraid
that a big block of teachers would not go. And one of the
interesting things to me, the fact that the whole line really
basically conservative leaders, were the ones, who in my opinion,
had, well, stayed out the longest, took the strongest stand once
they went out.
W: How about up to that point, were they reluctant?
S: Oh, some of them were. But and then, in my opinion, too, some of
the more militant, when all the cards were down, disappeared
And some of them almost panicked. Now, we had about twelve or
fifteen telephones in this room, and we talked to them constantly,
we had telephone communication and in many of the group, especially
in the larger places, we had open lines, where we could talk to
the whole general meetings, while we stayed here till two, three,
HFE 12A 8
S: or four o'clock every night, and the leaders, they were very
disturbed, I mean, many of them felt a big responsibility, and
they were being, all sorts of pressure was brought on them, and
of course, you're aware of the Jack Lee letter to the cabinet....
W: No, what's that, tell me about that letter.
S: Well, Jack Lee is the....
W: Associated Industries?
S: Yes. He wrote a rather lengthy letter to the cabinet about the
thing,. WySy a copy of it available to you, I'm sure Florida'll
have a copy. Uh, the, but the establishment, generally; really
put the pressure on the teachers.
W: Jack Lee letter from Associated Industries, that was the, he
said iVf/h i fire all the teachers?
S: Something to that effect, yes.
W: Send them out on the street.
W: Ki+ (I(a, hVl -cOkg that position after, but we have
to develop Kirks. March first, let me talk a little bit about
March first. March first is an interesting date. Whose idea
was March first?
S: I think it was just a date that was set up by, proposed at the
convention, and people said, well, now this gives them plenty of
time, and they're in special session, they can get it done, and
do it and get it over with. And then they wanted to convey that9
\\'oau I think the legislators knew,Athe legislators at least- the leadership
had become convinced that the teachers were dead serious. And we
had many of the leaders come over here and, and really, our
HFE 12A 9
S: leadership didn't do much to uh, uh, to cultivate the legislators.
They, they, some of the key leading legislators, when they became
convinced, they started coming over here to find out what could
be done, and what would satisfy and this sort of thing.
W: Not like today, eh?
S: No. (Chuckles) There have been other times when, I mean, we have
always maintained up until '68, pretty strong influence on
legislature. This was especially true when we had ninety to ninety-
five per cent of the teachers in membership, and they always
managed to know about how our membership was, how they felt, and
this sort of thing. They, that's, I mean, that's just their
business to know those things I guess.
W: March first. Now, that date is interesting to me because that
would not have given Kirk time enough to let the bill become
law without his signature, which was a....
S: No, I don't think it would have, but it would, if he had been,
if he had been going to veto it, he could have vetoed it, about
a week away, I guess, what it amounted to.
S: And, some of us were convinced that at that time, he would have
vetoed it, and the only reason I, I didn't see any way for us
to avoid the March first deadline. And so I said, let's just
wait until then, then your membership, you would have been acting
then on your membership's authorization, you wouldn't have put
so much responsibility on your, on your board of directors, and
on your key leaders here because, you see, they went, you could,
they could always say, well, we waited until the last minute, we
HFE 12A 10
S: avoided this thing as long as we could have, you gave us a mandate
to do it on March first, and that was my reasoning.
W: Impatient. Um, the race between Constans and the board is
interesting. Who's really responsible forAthese decisions,
Constans was only an employee actually. Is he the one dreaming
up all this, or is it really the board of directors? He's
always taking responsibility for it, that's been his position,
which I think has affected him personally. I'm of the opinion
that he, he wasn't responsible. He was an executive secretary
acting under the responsibility of the board.
S: I think the board u)h4ey L n IO Iexpcted this, and I think
Phil tight that. And....
W: They employed him to run a strike?
S: Well, they employed him to either get what we were asking for,
or to take whatever steps were necessary to force it. And I
really think, and I've known Phil even before he was president,
I knew his father and his father-in-law, and I think that Phil
thought that the teachers had much more power than they realized
A'nd that they never had really utilized it. And that if he could
once bring that power to bear, that, at the right place,, 0 the
right time, that, that you would have,grw would have put them
in a good strong position. I never quite agreed with that. I
did agree that we never had really used the teacher power. Uh,
for instance, we had, in the 1967-'68 year, we had a membership
of something over 50,000 members. When there were less than
60,000 teachers maybe fifty-five, we'll say we had practically
everybody, that included county, most of the county superintendents
HFE 12A 11
S: and everybody else. Now, we never, so far, we, we attempted to
keep legislators informed about what was going on, and what the
needs of the schools were, and we informed local leaders and we
urged local leaders to contact legislators, and we involved them
in preparing a legislative program, and we carried on a public
relations campaign. We never really threatened, there were some
local groups who did but we never, as a state organization, never
had an overt threat.to do this or, or suffer the consequences.
But most politicians, if they know you have the power, they, they
respect it, you know.
W: The decision to make the strike was actually the day was decided
when Christian came over to talk to you and there just wasn't much
discussion around the board?
S: Well, that, that was not the board of directors, it was a group
of leaders, including members of the board of directors, and that's,
that's, that following his, when he left, they, the decision was
W: Was it a unanimous vote?
S: Well, it was no actual vote, it was just a consensus thingo4i went
around the table without....
W: Noboday actually voted?
S: Nobody actually voted "no" but I mean, they, they, it was just a
decision that was made f a small enough group t ....but you see,
the decision had been made, not only by the board of directors,
but by the delegate assembly, which is one, one teacher for each
P ?; -ov'/ ,
W: i" was this delegate assembly assembled)now O y
W: as thisI. U
HFE 12A 12
S: Well, let's see, I don't....
W: When was that?
S: Evidently2that decision had evidently been made in a special
delegate assembly and perhaps if we call one in Tampa, I believe,
I don't recall the date, but we had, we had several special called
delegate assemblies in which we used the same delegates who had
been selected at the previous convention, and just said we'd have
a one day meeting in Tampa. And I believe we, I think this was
the time that that decision was made.
W: You had it in the fall, or let's see.:s
S: Gosh, I, I'm not, I, you see, we had, we had the, it was following
the Tangerine Bowl, which was held in August, and I assume it was
either in the fall or very early after the first of the year.
W: Phil looks kind of miserable in, during the, um, you had a truce
period in October, which some comments had been made. Constans
is described as looking miserable. Now, he, he, in a letter to
Cliff Cormeyer says that was staged to give the governor an
opportunity to say thanks. Do you remember this....
S: I don't think that was in October, was it?
W: Yeah, he had a, all right. Governor, the, the problem was that
the sixty-seventh session didn't give you what you wanted. You
had the Tangerine Bowl, the mass resignation was in hand.ASomething
like 31,000 of them. Phil kept entering it back and forth between
of i, e are
the governor's office and the F.E.A. -A'V., they going to call
LS back (ki
a. bEM tl session or not? He'll say, one day they were and then.
he wouldn't and he'd try..-.he played a lot of politics.A q real
HFE 12A 13
W: So Phil said that somebody, the F.E.A. board of directors, I guess,
4de9G4 an ultimatum, you know, either you give us the word out
of special session, or v call the teachers back to the
Tangerine Bowl again on Sunday. At that point, Kirk relented and
called a special session. Then they had a news conference in which....
S: Yes, I recall that, and Hagman was there at the news conference.
I remember, and I saw, Phil said this in his letter that he wrote
to the, somebody at, reporter at the Gainesville Sun. I, I'm not,
I'm not first hand aware, I'm not aware of that, really.
S: I read that in his, in his story to the, letter to the Sun.
W: Yeah, right. I'm just wondering ""kt if he was unhappy 'cause
he couldn't strike?
S: No. I'll tell you, one thing Phil, 'long at that time, he was
under a tremendous pressure. And he was up most of the nights,
he was traveling the state almost constantly. He was just worn
out. Now, I had, I had thought that that had taken place later
than October, that meeting over there between the....but, uh, I
had the idea that Phil looked, he looked tired, he looked like he
was physically drained, and I think he was, from, but he'd been
under this strain for a good long time, ad it was a heavy responsibilit-
and not only that, it was physically tiring,'just to be going
everywhere anybody needs some, you know, wantedAfor the promotion
of the cause. He was, he was gone all the time. AndAwhen he was
up here, he was, he was, well, after the strike, he stayed here, T
fact, he'd sometimes just sleep here on a cot, and stay right here
HFE 12A 14
S: in this building. He was worn out, and he was appearing on
television programs, and things of this sort, and it was, it was
W: Do you think that teachers should run the legislature in this way,
should they actually have this po iC power? I mean they, what
you were trying for was actually, that the teacher, according
to Kirk, and I guess Christian too said it was a power s-"ie "in
which the teachers wanted to call the final shot.
S: I think that the teachers became convinced that the legislature and
the establishment, if you want to call it that, were determined
that nothing was going to be done of any, they didn't seem to realize
the need, the didn't seem, many laypeople did not seem concerned
about it, and I think they thought that this wbuld be a way to
bring attention, and I think that they, most people thought that
you'd get the attention quickly, and they, the leadership of F.E.A.
expected public support. Now, thejrecognized the establishment
was against them, but I think that they thought the general public
would rally to their support. And this didn't happen, /t just
didn't happen. The only newspaper support we had at all was
Sait Petersburg Times, that I can recall, and all the others were
against us, and some of it, we had reason to believe was dictated
by members of the establishment. I mean, they, they called the
shots pretty well, I thought.
W: The actual strike was on February 19. Negotiations. Do you
remember any of the early negotiations? Now, you started off
working with Kirk, is that right, and he talked about vetoing
the bill, what was this about?
HFE 12A 15
S: Well, after the bill passed is when he was, when he talked about
W: It passed what, about February 19?
S: Well, the first place, that I think the threat of strike caused
the governor to call a special session ofAlegislature. Number
one, I don't think we would have gotten it, cause W tried to
get special sessions before. That was, that's number one. Number
two, I think that the strike itself is, was responsible for the
governor finally signing the bill.
W: Um hmm. Letting it become law.
S: Letting it become law. I think that those are the two positive
aspects of, results of the war. Now, of course, that was a great
sacrifice to a lot of people, and to the association, you see,
we were well, F.E.A. was in real fine financial shape at that
time. We had, we had a surplus in the neighborhood of I would
guess, $250,000, and everything was paid for, the building and
all the property was paid for. Of course we, we spent all of
that, and then the N.E.A. committed4,$i^^'lW" which I don't
think they ever spent quite that much, they sent a good bit of
money in here for distribution to, to members. Uh, then following
the next year, they, the membership fell, you know, from about
50,000 to about 25,000. Actually a little below 25,000. Because
of the different,,,well, some of the people who had been strong in
the strike became disenchanted, and then a good portion ofAteachers
who objected to it in the first place stayed out, and didn't join
the next year. And then of course, we had the active opposition
of--a good many of the members of the school management team, I
HFE 12A 16
S: mean superintendents and principals and that, people of that
strike. So, that, that made it....
W:A Um, can you verify Phil's statement that he had an agreement
during the first week) 2jn which Kirk was supposed to veto the
bill This was the objective of the strike. First of all, tell
me what were the objectives of the strike? What were you trying
S: Well, the objective of the strike was to accomplish the legislative
program2 A i/ set forth in the legislative program.
W: Well, all right, Hagman and others said they didn't achieve the
objectives, and according to Hagman, they actually spelled them
out. One was to, that Governor Kirk was to veto the existing bill,
call the legislature back into session. /he legislature was to
reenact a new bill without a ten mill gap per county, and then
these teachers were to come back to work and the strike would have
been a victory.
S: Well, that's correct, too, but the ultimate purpose, see, the
purpose of it was set up way back, in accomplishing the, and this
was just a way-of, this was what the, some of the leadership
thought was a way to accomplish the original objectives, which was
more money for education. And, and....
W: Yeah. But they spell it out particularly. I thought it was a
demand, Ijthink that was another strategic error, because it was
asking too much. Legislature coming back into session,removing^
the ten mill gap, and you know. In other words, if they had
asked for realistic objectives, like the legislature come back
into session and override the veto, that still would have put them
HFE 12A 17
W: in opposition to Kirk. You see, the way I Si percieve this2
and I might be wrong, was that Kirk was looking like the cause
of the strike, and most of the people of Florida had become
disenchanted with Kirk, and his J___OJ1" and his travels, and
you VvoJi) J
his,A he's obviously extravagAnt. Obviously he was going too far
looking a bit foolish. both Christian and the
democratic establishment and the cabinet, the legislature, the
newspapers, they all worked to make Kirk look like a fool. And
as long as you were in opposition to Kirk, you seemed to have
your public with you. Even though Ed Ball and these other
peopleAreally supporting Kirk, because he was the one that replaced
Hayden Burns and their in south Florida, they
couldn't really come out publicly with their letters and their
attacks and the rest of this because Kirk's popularity was very
low.jA hen you went against the legislature and against the
actual legislation that was passed, it seemed that you lost your
public. Is this correct?
S: I'm not sure that's the reason we lost the public. I think, my
opinion the real reason that we lost the public was a, was an
atmosphere in Florida toward that type of what they call labor
tactic. I mean, they didn't then, and I don't think now, that
the public would sanction a strike by teachers or other public
employees. I just don't, they'd have to have a real valid cause
I think to, to get generally, to get public support, because
people just sieve .a teachers strike.
W: W/il, for one, you would have .4 Christian cj l icc
S: In the first place they said, well, this, it's one, it's unlawful,
HFE 12A 18
S: it's a bad example to kids, I mean, I just, that was just all
sorts of things that appeared. Of course, some of it was planted
by the establishment, I think, in opposition, but it did appeal
to people generally. Even now I heard it mentioned in the
committee two weeks ago, /ne of the the committee chairmen
brought it up again, about teachers striking. And then we weren't
discussing the collective bargaining bill at all, it was just....
And, and I can talk to, and of course I come from a conservative
section of Florida, but people, you can't, there's no way to
explain, even some of my closest friends, they just, they turn
you off when you try to make some explanation for that, that's
just unforgivable as far as those people are concerned.
fcrocf VC 9 0 OVI?
W: Okay. Can you verify this one things This'll probably finish
off with the governor. Early negotiation with the governor
according to Constans resulted in an agreement that he was going
to veto legislation, call legislature back into session, which
going to act a F.E.A. acceptable bill. The governor
was to go to Dade/County, and down there, he flew in by helicopter,
he spoke to the 6,000 teachers down there, but then, according
to Constans, Kirk had some kind of a change, and he was abrasive
to the teachers, and he was asking for WF from the teachers,
and he was kissing the executive secretary down there, Janet Dean..,
S: The president.
W: President down there, and he a1ta3&R, again, going off the handle
and resolved that he backed himself in the position f a strike
breaker. His former position was reasserted down there, and the
HFE 12A 19
W: teachers just lost all confidence in the governor, and negotiations
between Constans and the governor was broken off, and he went +o
Christian. Is this true, did you actually have such an agreement
from, from Kirk?
We( I -qcw
S: -Wren-I was not involved in the agreement with Kirk. I do know
that they had conferences with Kirk and Kirk called over here
asked Phil to come over, and we had employed an assistant, a
second assistant executive secretary, Dick Morgan. And Dick
had been with the N.E.A. and the governor came to the conclusion
that the N.E.A. had s.et Morgan in here. And so, when, when they
started the negotiations with the governor, the governor called
/i?'^ and Phil told me, he said, the governor said bring Morgan
with me. What in the world, why should I bring Morgan? Because
Morgan had just come in to the situation, you know, but he brought
him, he found out after he got over there that the governor thought
that Morgan could speak for: the N.E.A. And so, it was really/
the negotiations between the governor between Phil and Hagman
and Morgan. Morgan was in attendance, they went out to the, to
the mansion. And let's see, there was somebody, oh, rCie-Oz,
I believe was involved. 'Cause George, you know, had just been
the president, and was brought onto the staff nd he and Phil
were real close too. So I don't know about the negotiations, I
have to reason to doubt Phil's version of it. Because I know,
I know at the time that that, when he went to Dade County, there
was a, there seemed to be a change in his, in his attitude. And
I'm sure that Phil ^t4/'kh thought that, they thought this is
what could happen, this is what they could see coming out. Just
HFE 12A 20
S: what you've described.
W: Um hmm. Do you remember anything about Floyd Christian's role,
and how teachers viewed Floyd Christian?
S: Well, as far as I'm concerned, I thought Floyd was one member
of the cabinet who was most helpful to us in getting, getting
the show back on the road so to speak. Uh, obviously Floyd
couldn't, couldn't come out and, and support, I mean, he made
his position clear beforezthat, and he could not,AI didn't
see how he could actually support the strike. But he did, he
was very helpful, the governor, I saw a letter, I have a letter
that the governor wrote to Floyd and said- it's about time you
I yr6OaA1, i+-f4ja5>
stopped helping these striking teachers. AndA sort of a
threatening letter, and I, then Claude gave me a copy of his
reply. And I think Floyd's primary concern was to get the schools
operating again, and & he, he, he did not, he was not
vindicative to teachers, he suggested, he urged county -we-s to
take teachers back without reprisal. He stretched a point or two
to, to keep some counties from, from well, from taking teachers
off of continuing contract yl6u, you resigned, we accepted your
resignation, you come back on as a, as a, and you'd have to serve
your apprenticeship again, you'll have to serve three years before,,,
they wouldn't, all this sort of thing, and the emotion of the time.
And Floyd discouraged that and I,4my personal knowledge, in some
instancesAwas very influential. He wrote to the, all of the
school boards, and showed them ways that they could, they could
take the teachers back without actually punishing them. He worked
with the cabinet, I'm told, and I'm not t about this that
HFE 12A 21
S: Cecil Hanham, who was then assistant executive secretary of
N.E.A. was down here, and Cecil did some work with the cabinet,
and I'm told that Tom Adams at that time was, seemed to be helpful.
to the teacher's cause, but the cabinet was frightened to death,
and they didn't want to take any, and they, they were concerned
about the establishment too, I guess, and they were suddenly
concerned about the voters and getting involved. So we had two
or three different proposals, we had, that they were going to
pass the resolution, that they were going to pass in cabinet
meeting, and they just kept getting weaker and weaker until
finally one was finally adoptedAwas so weak that it wasn't any
help, I didn't think. But they had a, they had a resolution
to come before the cabinet which finally passed.
W: Why did you #cede to this agreement on March, February 29, March
first and March eighth/A you remember anything about, did you feel
you were losing the strike, is that why you decided on a rather
S: Well the, the facts of the matter g4g that some of these local
groups, each county group, they were individually working with
their local officialswrt going back. I mean, you see, if ou
haven't got the troops/you can do all the talking you want up here,
but you can't, what we were trying to do was protect the people
^ best we could, the best that we could, and when when Dade
County went back, see, that was a big group that went back.
W: When did that go back?
S: Well, they went back to, sometime before
co .urSee had some groups who were determined to stay out. And so we had
HFE 12A 22
S: someone Ah';, but you see, the ground was being cut from under
the leadership here when a large group would say, "Okay, we've
worked out our problem, our people are taking us back, isY141 fePy
S6 'l(6 doing this for us, and that." Back they'd go.
W: Dade County went back before the actual call to go back?
S: Oh, yes. That was a big blow, you see, when Dade....well, they
notified us that they had a settlement with their board, and
you know, that they were just, well, it was from a standpoint
that we, we've held our people out as long as we can, that's what
they told us. And so, but there was, they weren't the only ones,
other groups were doing it too, it was a matter of, most people
became convinced,,,you see, everybody thought this was going to be
over in two or three days, a week at the most, and then when it
didn't happen, and it, it....I thought, the remarkable thing to
me was that we2 one, were able to get as many people out as we did.
See, we had close, pretty close to half out, I'd say. Not, not
half, but very close to it. And then the fact that they stayed
as long as they did. Teachers are naturally conservative, you know,
and they, they reflect the thinking of the community, but with
the public opinion that we had, it had a great VW on teachers,
you know. The people were telling them they were contract breakers,
and this, that and that sort of thing. So the amazing thing, and
as I said earlier, I don't believe we could have gotten the large
number out or we #could have kept them out as long as we did had
it not been el y4 W time/ F.E.A. leaders who were basically
conservative, ,ut once they went they were, they were
W: This was not an N.E.A. ra iCYd strike? It was JA^"Jan F.E.A.
HFE 12A 23
S: Well, N.E.A. was involved. See, they sent their, uh, Cecil Hanner
down here, who was assistant executive secretary. There never had
been a state wide strike before. They were supportive, they
conducted the survey and the report earlier. Brali Alonzo(.
who is a Floridian and former president of F.E.A was then, well,
he was the president of N.E.A. at that time. So they sent Cecil
down here, they sent attorneys down, they, as I said earlier, they
committed $24 l 440
W: But they didn't actually....
S: They didn't commit, they set aside $2pZYl9/P to finance it, help
to finance it. Of course, of course it was, we put much more
money in it than.they did, and they didn't really have much, much
decision; much of the participation and the decision except that
they were, they were in a supportive role, as I said, and they
wanted to see what could be done. And we had committed to
unification, now that'what, that's another thing that caused our
membership to drop, you see. We had doubled our dues, we went
from twenty dollars to forty dollars. Then we unified with N.E.A.
which meant that we couldn't accept anybody's membership unless
they joined N.E.A.. too. So that meant that a teacher,Amany teachers,
especially in this northern section of Floridahad been joining
F.E.A. only for twenty dollars. Well, they found themselves forty
dollars for F.E.A. dues, plus another twenty, finally went to
twenty-five for N.E.A. So they were, they were in the position of
jumping from twenty dollars a year to sixty five dollars a year.
And so when our membership dropped from 50,000 to 25,000, the N.E.A.
membership that same year increased from eleven to twenty-five
HFE 12A 24
S: thousand. So their's doubled and ours was half.
W: W/y'd you make the decision to go with N.E.A.?
S: Well, N.E.A., many states have unified with N.E.A. And that was
the ultimate goal, to be all, all of the states to unify. And so
the decision was that to participate in the unification of the
whole country, you know. And, ironically, N.E.A.'s policy on
unification would guarantee that if a state or a local association)
if they unified with N.E.A., they would guarantee their membership
for a period of three years. That what it was at the time of
unification. You see, we had a 50,000 membership when we had
determined to unify, but we didn't actually unify until our
membership was 25,000. So we had no N.E.A. guarantee to maintain
that if we had unified a year before that, N.E.A. would have
paid, would have guaranteed a 50,000 membership.
W: Would have paid the dues?
end of side one
end of interview