Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Jamy Brice-Hyde knew educators were suffering high levels of stress, but when she got several reports of teacher suicides in one day, she felt desperate. She fired off a late-night email to ask for help, and 20 minutes later an AFT staff member called her back. "Are you OK?" was the first question. And it was followed by a series of actions and conversations leading to a quality-of-worklife survey of more than 30,000 educators, a collaboration between the Badass Teachers Association (BAT) and the AFT that ended up influencing policy that helps address working conditions that aggravate stress, anxiety and depression among teachers and paraprofessionals. "This is the power of union," said Brice-Hyde, a social studies teacher, a member of the New York State United Teachers and the director of the BATs' Quality of Workplace Steering Committee. "From that moment forward, we worked together," she said, listening to educators' stories of workplace bullying and abuse.