MARQUETTE - Marquette teachers showed up in full force Sunday afternoon as part of a flash mob, all shopping at Tadych's Econo Foods in Marquette during a two-hour window.
The group's purpose was two-fold Sunday: first, to raise money for Cherry Creek Elementary School Principal Tami Bott's health care expenses as she battles a serious illness that has kept her sidelined from her job, and second to increase public awareness of the teachers' lack of a current contract.
Members of the Marquette Area Education Association, which represents Marquette teachers, collected grocery receipts from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Marquette Senior High School physical education teacher Rico Zenti bags his groceries Sunday Econo Food in Marquette. Teachers wore black during the event in a show of solidarity. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
According to MAEA Co-president Don Barr, a total of $20,834.86 in receipts was turned in.
Econo will donate 1 percent of the total dollars accumulated on those receipts to the Bott family.
More than $100 in cash was also donated during the time there.
"It's in honor of Tami Bott and her family ... she is dealing with a very serious illness and we want to support her," said Bothwell Middle School counselor Toni Landick.
"She's our colleague and our friend."
The teachers also kept track of which receipts belonged to teachers, collecting those in a separate box in an effort to show the community the economic impact Marquette teachers have in the area.
"We can show that teachers, although they don't make a lot of money, do contribute to the local economy in numbers that make it a significant economic impact on local business," Barr said.
According to Barr, 93 Marquette Area Public Schools teachers shopped at Econo Foods between 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday, spending $9,609.86.
As shoppers entered the store, they were greeted by teachers handing out red buttons that said "I Support Marquette Teachers."
The teachers have been in contract negotiations with the district for months, with the two sides currently utilizing the help of a state mediator.
Landick said the event offered an opportunity for a weary union to refuel itself.
"We've had a long year. It's been a tough year and this is the kind of thing that raises our spirits a little, just connecting with each other as a membership, as a union of teachers," Landick said. "But also, the public that comes by and says, 'We're really cheering for you, we're hoping that things get settled soon.' In that sense, it's been a really uplifting day."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.