Interview with Jack Stevens, June 5, 1973

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Interview with Jack Stevens, June 5, 1973
Stevens, Jack ( Interviewee )
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History of Florida Education Oral History Collection ( local )


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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subject: Jack Stevens

Interviewer: Arthur White


W: 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

biographical background.

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?

S: 9.

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
vy)U= C0cpeg/th'c
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.

S: Correct.

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
"%'ll j40n
said iVf/h i fire all the teachers?

S: Something to that effect, yes.

W: Send them out on the street.

S: Right

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.

W: Right.

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 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
I'+^ -W544
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

ten members.
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

showman politician.

HFE 12A 13


S: Right.

W: So Phil said that somebody, the F.E.A. board of directors, I guess,
'oihkd ^cIo'tJ
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.

W: Okay.

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

awfully tiring.

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
12. million
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

to ....

S: Well, the objective of the strike was to accomplish the legislative
]4"C 50o0d
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 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

weak compromise?

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


V0I hao;
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
milli U&y
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