Past Point: 1970s Teacher Negotiations & A Reporter’s Work Ethic
Editor’s Note: Past Point is a new feature highlighting the memories of yesterday in the Stevens Point Area.
By Brandi Makuski
Dateline, Sometime in the 1970s, Stevens Point- Anton Anday was one of many public school teachers participating in contract negotiations with the school district some 40 years ago.
Negotiations had gone a full week, he said. Teachers, district officials and a state mediator were meeting at night in a banquet room of the old Holiday Inn on North Division Street. Anday said they’d go see their families for a bit after work, and maybe grab some dinner, but then they’d head over to the hotel to work on their annual contract agreements.
But after a full week, the parties reached an impasse.
“And George Rogers was there the whole time,” said Anday, remembering fondly. “I mean, he was leaning against the wall in the hallway all night.”
Anday, who was teaching ancient history, modern European and American history at SPASH, said he and others tried to convince Rogers to go home.
“We kept telling him, ‘George, go home; we’ll call you if anything happens’, but he wouldn’t leave,” Anday said, laughing. “He just sat there, watching the state mediator running between the rooms, calm as a cucumber.”
Rogers was, at the time, a reporter for the Stevens Point Journal, where he began his career in 1948. Anday recalled the respect and authority Rogers commanded- not because he talked about it, or asked for it- by his mere work ethic and strong reporting style.
On the last day of negotiations, Anday said teachers were “technically on strike for about two minutes”. It was six o’clock in the morning- he doesn’t remember the exact date- but with the impasse at hand, closing down the district was only minutes away from reality. When a last-minute agreement was finally reached, only moments from the start of the school day, Anday said, Rogers were there in person to catch it all.
After the agreement was reached, teachers and mediators relocated to the basement of a downtown Episcopalian church- the only available space at that time of day- and voted to approve the agreement.
“Then went right to school the way we were dressed, which was not very professional,” Anday said. “But George was the first one who got the story because he was there all damn night. I mean, he was there from 4:30 in the afternoon to seven the next morning. He could have waited. It’s not like we had websites and Facebook back then, so he couldn’t have gotten the story out any quicker. He could have just called us in the morning to ask, but he didn’t. That’s where his power came from- his work ethic and his perseverance.”
Rogers died in 2013.