Editorial: Anday regaled with tales from ’70s teacher’s union negotiations

By Brandi Makuski

Supervisor Anton Anday shared the following story with this reporter in 2018, while he served as a Village of Plover Trustee: 

Stevens Point, sometime in the 1970s. Anton Anday, a social studies teacher, was one of many public school teachers engaged in contract negotiations with the district.

Negotiations had gone a full week, Anday said. Teachers, district officials, and a state mediator were meeting night after night in a banquet room of the old Holiday Inn on Division St. North. Anday said teachers would run home to see their families for a short time after work, and maybe grab some dinner, before heading to the hotel to work on their annual contract agreements.

But after a full week, the parties reached an impasse.

George Rogers. (Contributed)

George Rogers. (Contributed)

“And George Rogers was there the whole time,” Anday remembered fondly. “I mean, he was leaning against the wall in the hallway all night.”

Anday, who at the time 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 was 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 ratify the agreement.

“Then [we] 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. He was one of the best reporters we’ve seen in the Stevens Point area. Anday, too, was one of the best public servants this reporter has covered. We need more like them, today, more than ever.