They’ll build a wooden horse and leave it outside the gates of Troy as an offering….

We all know that ancient story. We know how it begins, and we know how it ends. The labor movement has always offered many challenges. As I stand before you today, this auditorium is filled with members of local units, each with a specific role to play in the operations of the Lindenhurst School District. Although we do not share the same responsibilities, we do in fact share the same challenges. One particular challenge has been present among us since the very beginning of organized labor. Beware of those bearing gifts.

Over 25 years ago, I listened as presidential candidates debated the usefulness of labor unions. Teachers’ unions were particularly being attacked. Detractors used such attractive words as “choice” and “freedom” to divide memberships. These debates have neither subsided, nor have they been resolved. The simple fact remains that there are those who wish to see organized labor disappear. They appeal to the political beliefs of individuals as a means to distract and divide. Make no mistake about it. Whether the divisive topic of the day is masks, gun rights, reproductive freedom or something that is yet unseen, the ultimate goal of those who wish us harm is to strip us of our collective bargaining rights.

Like all of you, I look forward to another school year filled with challenges. We will all be happy to begin this particular school year under the most normal conditions that we have experienced since the winter of 2020. I only caution you to not take decades of accomplishment for granted. Our collective bargaining rights are under attack. They are being threatened now more than ever. Be wary of those who pretend to have our best interests at heart, particularly if they suggest that our collective numbers are not as important as our individual beliefs and needs.

This Labor Day, let us all reflect on how far we have come, both universally and locally. Let us reflect on the importance of the strength of our collective numbers, and the inherent damage of weak links. Remind friends and family of the necessity of small class sizes, injury compensation, health and safety guidelines, fair wages and decent benefits. Only through this awareness will it be possible to continue to advocate not only for ourselves, but for our students as well.

Teachers’ unions will always be the subject of debate. Such a debate should exist in a free society. The only question that should exist within our organization, however, is simply this. Do you prefer the protections of organized labor to the dangers of standing alone? That question is not only for teachers, but for all of us who benefit from the right of collective bargaining.

On behalf of the Teachers’ Association of Lindenhurst, I wish you all a very happy and successful school year. Congratulations to those of you who will be starting your first year in this noble profession, and congratulations to those of you who will be starting your last.

In solidarity,
Michael Pastore