Next Monday, the Teacher Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) will march together with members of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union from neighboring districts on the streets of Main Street in protest of the recent teacher contract negotiations in Sag Harbor. The village board of trustees approved the permit for the TASH rally on Tuesday evening, October 13, but had a few requests for TASH President Eileen Kochanasz.
Above: Teachers picketing in front of the Sag Harbor Elementary School in January of 2009.
Sag Harbor Village Trustee Tiffany Scarlato brought up concerns, saying she felt Main Street business owners would likely be upset with the demonstration and complain to the trustees. Kochanasz assured Scarlato that teachers would personally visit the store owners ahead of time to talk with them about the rally.
“Hopefully, that takes some of the heat off of you,” said Kochanasz to the board.
Kochanasz explained the event would entail people parking in available spaces in the village. The group will then meet at the Long Wharf, walk up one side of Main Street with signs of protest in hand, march back down the other side of the street and then make their way to Pierson High School via Madison Street. Once at the high school, noted Kochanasz, participants would disperse from the area on their own and not as a group.
“If there is enough people we might walk in two groups down [Main] street simultaneously,” reported Kochanasz during a later interview.
On the permit application, Kochanasz informed the village that the rally could attract up to 300 people. TASH has invited fellow NYSUT members from all the Suffolk County schools to join in the rally. Although Kochanasz doesn’t have final tallies of how many people will show up on Monday, representatives from Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Tuckahoe, Westhampton, Riverhead, Eastport, Springs, Shelter Island and Montauk plan to attend the event. Jim Kinnier, a prominent member of TASH, also reached out to educators at schools located on the North Fork.
The group will walk on the sidewalk and not the roadway, but Kochanasz and Kinnier plan to meet with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano to discuss the logistics of the march. A few teachers have volunteered to stand at crosswalks and help organize vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
At the trustees meeting, the board members only briefly discussed the negotiations between the teachers and school board, which have been under way for more than 20 months. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted he has already offered school superintendent Dr. John Gratto the use of the Municipal Building for any further negotiations with TASH, with Scarlato offering herself up as a mediator.
“We actually have tried that with two outside mediators,” noted Kochanasz, referencing the mediator and fact finder the district has already employed.
The board unanimously approved the permit, although Scarlato said she hopes it does not become a monthly request.
The TASH rally will begin at the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor on Monday, October 19, at 5 p.m.