Pelham Teachers Threatened to Strike Over Pay in 1906
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In short, all Hell broke loose.
The ten other teachers immediately demanded annual pay increases equal to that awarded to Miss Risley. One of the teachers wrote a demand letter to the School Board that members of the board found offensive and undisciplined. Another of the teachers accosted a School Board member and told him that she would refuse to sign an employment agreement for the upcoming school year unless her pay was increased by $200 a year. Finally, the ten teachers banded together and threatened to strike at the outset of the new school year unless annual pay for all eleven teachers was increased by $200.
The entire School Board became furious. Its members felt that the teachers were attempting to dictate employment terms that were not in the interest of the School District. At least one School Board member proclaimed that it would take only fifteen minutes to fill all eleven teaching positions if the Board were to decide not to renew any of the teachers' employment contracts for the upcoming school year.
News articles about the threatened strike appeared in the New York Times and in several other regional newspapers, fanning the flames of the dispute. By late May, the School Board had had enough. The Board delivered an ultimatum to the District's teachers. It gave them until June 1 to sign and return employment contracts accepting the lower pay or be treated as though they had resigned their positions effective June 1. Moreover, the School Board demanded a letter of apology from the teacher who had written the demand letter to the Board and took the position that no contract would be extended to the teacher who told a member of the School Board that she would refuse to sign an employment agreement unless offered a $200 pay increase.
The teachers scoffed at the ultimatum. They declared they would, in fact, resign en masse if their salary demands were not granted.
June 1 came and went. The School Board gathered on the evening of June 5, 1906 for its regular meeting. At that meeting, members of the School Board announced that the Pelham teachers had "raised a white flag" and surrendered. Not only had the teachers dropped their demands for higher pay, but every teacher also had returned signed employment agreements reflecting the original $100 pay increases.
The School Board, however, was not satisfied. It demanded and received a letter that it treated as an apology from the teacher who had written a demand letter to the Board. Moreover, during the June 5 Board meeting, members of the Board debated at great length whether the employment contract returned by the teacher who had accosted a School Board member should be accepted given that the Board had believed the teacher was no longer planning to be employed with the School District given that she would not be receiving the $200 annual pay increase that she had said she would have to have in order to return. After letting that teacher twist in the wind throughout the debate, the Board finally relented and accepted her employment contract for the upcoming school year.
The threatened teacher strike of 1906 never came to pass. . . .
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SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOL.
Principal Hill, of North Pelham, is Appointed.
At the meeting of the board of education held Friday night in the Pelham Heights schoolhouse after the public meeting, a step was taken which in all probability will increase greatly the efficiency of the public school system in the town of Pelham. It was the appointment of I. C. Hill, the efficient principal of the North Pelham school, as superintendent of the entire district. Mr. Hill will be known as the superintendent of schools in the town of Pelham.
For some time there has been a feeling that someone should supervise the work being done in all of the schools and visit the same at least once a week and report to the board of education once a month.
Friday night's action is a result of this feeling that has been existing. The following resolution was passed unanimously: 'Resolved, That I. C. Hill be employed for the ensuing school year as principal of the North Pelham school and supervising principal of the district, his duties as such supervising principal to consist in visiting each of the schools of the district at least once a week and to report on the conditions of such schools and the quality of the work in each at the meetings of the board.' The salary was fixed by the board in the resolution which was presented by Mr. Rupert.
All of the teachers in all of the schools were re-engaged for another year. The salaries of the teachers in the North Pelham school were so increased that the minimum salary is now $600 instead of $500, as previously. The salary of Miss Risley was increased $200, from $600 to $800. The other teachers were increased $100."
Source: PELHAM -- SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOL -- Principal Hill, of North Pelham, is Appointed, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 30, 1906, p. 5, col. 4.
"TEACHERS MAY STRIKE.
The Pelham Pedagogues Demand Higher Salaries All Around.
The school teachers of Pelham, North Pelham, and Pelham Manor have threatened to strike unless the Board of Education increases their salaries. The board has refused the teacher's demands, and has given them until June 1 to sign contracts for the coming year or resign. The teachers declare they will resign if their demands are not granted.
The town of Pelham is composed of three villages, which are all governed by one Board of Education. There are seven members of this body, and they employ eleven teachers. Recently the board increased the salary of Miss Risley, a teacher in the North Pelham School, $200 a year. When this was announced the other ten teachers demanded a similar increase, which was denied. It was then that the teachers decided to strike. According to the teachers, there is a shortage of Normal School teachers, and they say that if the Board of Education continues to refuse their demands there will be no school in the Pelhams next year.
Henry L. Ruppert, a member of the Board of Education, said to-night that the board is determined to hold out against the teachers. The members say that Miss Risley's salary was raised because she had practically taught two classes; that she had previously been paid below the standard scale and had not received an increase in two years."
Source: TEACHERS MAY STRIKE -- The Pelham Pedagogues Demand Higher Salaries All Around, N.Y. Times, May 28, 1906, p. 20, col. 2.
"TEACHERS' STRIKE IS THREATENED
School teachers of Pelham, North Pelham and Pelham Manor have threatened to strike unless the Board of Education increase their salaries. The Board has refused the teachers' demand and has given them until June 1 to accept stated salaries for the coming year or resign. The teachers say they will resign if their demands are not granted.
Pelham is comprised of three villages, all governed by one Board of Education. Recently the Board increased the salary of Miss Risley, a teacher in the North Pelham school, $200 annually. When this was announced, the ten other teachers demanded a like increase. It was denied, and then the teachers decided to strike."
Source: TEACHERS' STRIKE IS THREATENED, The Bronxville Review, May 31, 1906, Vol. V, No. 22, p. 1, col. 2.
"TEACHERS MAY STRIKE.
Trouble in Pelham Because Teachers Want Higher Salaries.
The school teachers of Pelham, North Pelham and Pelham Manor have threatened to strike unless the Board of Education increases their salaries. The board has refused the teachers' demands, and has given them until June 1 to sign contracts for the coming year or resign. The teachers declare they will resign if their demands are not granted.
The town of Pelham is composed of three villages, which are all governed by one Board of Education. There are seven members of this body, and they employ eleven teachers. Recently the Board increased the salary of Miss Risley, a teacher in the North Pelham school, $200 a year. When this was announced the other ten teachers demanded a similar increase, which was denied. It was then that the teachers decided to strike. According to the teachers, there is a shortage of Normal School teachers.
The Board of Education says that Miss Risley's salary was raised because she had practically taught two classes: that she had previously been paid below the standard scale and had not received an increase in two years."
Source: TEACHERS MAY STRIKE -- Trouble in Pelham Because Teachers Want Higher Salaries, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jun. 2, 1906, Vol. 48, No. 10, p. 1, col. 3.
"PELHAM TEACHERS SURRENDER WILL ACCEPT OLD SALARIES
Board of Education Was Not Unanimous in Accepting Their Apologies But Finally Adjusted the Trouble
Pelham Heights, June 6. -- The Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor school teachers have raised the flag of surrender and hostilities were declared at an end between them and the Pelham board of education at the meeting of the latter last night in the Pelham Heights school house. The members of the board expressed themselves as pleased with the turn of affairs, and are confident that never again will any set of teachers dictate to them what to do and what not to do, relative to what salaries they should receive.
The attitude of the teachers in Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor was due to certain resolutions that were passed by the board at the special meeting of May 23. One of the resolutions passed concerned Miss Mina Firman, and it rescinded the one passed at the meeting in April, to re-engage her for another year at the same salary as it was understood that she would not remain for the same amount; the second resolution passed, was a demand from Miss Mae Firman, of Pelham Manor, for a letter of apology on account of a letter forwarded from her to the board, which in the opinion of the members, seemed to criticize it; the third resolution was to the effect that if the contracts of the Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor teachers were not returned by June 1, they could not consider themselves re-engaged for another year.
These resolutions were sufficiently strong enough to frighten the teachers into submission and according to the prompt manner in which the contracts were returned to Clerk Durham, signed with no raise in salary, there is evidence that they are about ready to do what the board expects. Miss Mina Firman returned her contract signed at the same salary as last year, with a letter in which she stated that she was not aware that there was any definite time settled upon for the returning of signed contracts.
A letter was read from Miss Mae Firman, of Pelham Manor, in which she expressed herself as very much surprised at the letter from Clerk Durham, notifying her of the board's demand for a letter of apology. She said that she did not intend in her letter, to manifest any criticism and was sorry if the board so construed her statements as such. Clerk Durham was asked if he had the signed contracts of the teachers, and he stated that he had.
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Miss Firman's letter of apology, for such the board considered it, was accepted and ordered placed on file and that she be re-engaged in accordance with her contract. It was so ordered. It was also voted to accept the contracts signed by the other teachers.
There was some discussion relative to what was the basis of the resolution passed to rescind the previous resolution to re-engage Miss Mina Firman at the same salary. It was stated that the board based it on the assumption that she would not remain for another year unless her salary was increased. The matter was brought up at the previous meeting because Miss Firman had intimated to a member of the board in conversation, that she would not stay unless increased in salary.
One member of the board said, 'I think these teachers understand now that this board intends to act as a board of the district and not as a board for any one set of teachers.' Another said, 'I think this is a lesson to them. Don't you think we had better declare the strike off?'
Finally, on motion of Mr. Fairchild, a resolution was passed rescinding the resolution of May 23, not to re-engage Miss Mina Firman and that she be re-engaged at the present salary. Before the resolution was passed, there was quite a lengthy discussion. A prominent member of the board was of the opinion that the passing of such a resolution would have a bad effect upon the discipline which the board had effected as a result of its other resolutions. Another said, 'I am of the opinion that the discipline has been effectual. They do not act as if they owned the 'whole shooting match,' but are they submissive now? It is rather a hard thing to fire a woman out. It gives her a bad reputation.'
'Well then, let her resign,' said the first speaker. 'It looks bad on the fact of it; it looks as if the board was going to be prevented from doing as it pleased.'
'I think that there has been a very material change in the attitude and mannerisms of the teachers since the last meeting we had,' said Mr. Fairchild. 'The discipline has been very effective.'
Mr. Rupert wanted to know, if by a change of one of the teachers some of the trouble in Pelham Heights would not be overcome.
Mr. Lyman was of the opinion that the best thing to do would be to leave the matter in the hands of the Pelham Heights trustees, although Mr. Rupert was of the opinion that there would always be trouble between a certain teacher in Pelham Heights and the superintendent of the schools.
Mr. Fairchild was of the opinion that the resolutions were passed for the purpose of discipline, and that had been attained.
Mr. Rupert said, 'Well, it will simply mean that all of the teachers will go on a strike next year.' 'Well, if they do,' said Mr. Secor,' we can fill all of their places in fifteen minutes.'
'I think this teacher ought to go. It will teach her to be more diplomatic,' said one. The resolution was finally passed, though not unanimously.
It was voted to close the schools June 20 and to re-open them September 10. The clerk was instructed to so notify the different principals.
A resolution was passed that bids be asked for, for supplying the schools of the district with 140 tons of coal. Several bills were ordered paid. The financial condition of the board was considered. Clerk Durham notifying the Board that $2,000 was needed. He was finally instructed to meet the supervisor and the town clerk.
Previous to the reading of the minutes, Prof. Hallam of Mount Vernon met the members of the board to talk over with them the advisability of teaching music in the three schools."
Source: PELHAM TEACHERS SURRENDER WILL ACCEPT OLD SALARIES -- Board of Education Was Not Unanimous in Accepting Their Apologies But Finally Adjusted the Trouble, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 6, 1906, No. 4335, p. 1, cols. 4 & 5 & p. 5, col. 2.
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