With the success of the Night School teachers strike, Robert Parente and Sam Hochberg looked to strengthening the campaign to restore the salary differential for high school teachers by enlisting the Junior High Schools in the struggle. The High School Teachers Association was rechristened the Secondary School Teachers Association. However, this was resisted by the Guild which had a large influence with teachers of the middle grades. Subsequently, the SSTA and the Guild entered into merger talks.
The two groups found a resolution to the stalemate over restoring the differential for high school by supporting a “promotional increment” that reflected the qualifications for high school but could be granted to anyone who earned an equivalent academic achievement.
This resolution would never be acceptable to the leadership of the SSTA. The merger would occur only when the militants, including Parente, Hochberg, John Bailey and others had split to form the Committee for Action through Unity (CATU). The plans for the merger were a surprise to the old guard of the Teachers Guild.
To Selden’s chagrin the plans for a merger was presented by Al Shanker to the Executive Board as a fait accompli which no one could stop. Selden described his embarrassment over this, wishing that Shanker had allow the Board to “work their own way to the inevitable conclusions.” (p. 38)
The behind the scenes power play puts into the mind of the Old Guard the split brought on by younger members of the Teachers Union during the 1930s. The reluctant parties resisting the merging refer to the younger faction as the “Popular Front from Below,” a reference to the winning side in those earlier days.
However, the Guild remains intact and at a special meeting of the delegate assembly the merger receives the blessings of the former president, Rebecca Simonson.