Amid crisis in democracy, ‘We have a right to be hopeful’

After a week that saw the seat of U.S. government overrun by a mob that stormed the Capitol, prompting the historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump for inciting the deadly riot, participants on a livestreamed town hall led by AFT President Randi Weingarten nevertheless found reasons to be hopeful about American democracy. Joining Weingarten as speakers during the Jan. 14 town hall were Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum, and Sari Beth Rosenberg, a history and social studies teacher in the New York City public schools and host of the Summer Zoom Teacher Series on PBS.

COVID-19 vaccine town hall addresses members’ questions

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout is underway in the U.S., and many healthcare workers, nursing home staff and residents who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in early January are already getting their second round of shots. Meanwhile, more essential workers, including teachers, are in the queue for the next round of vaccinations. A town hall held on Jan. 12 and sponsored by the AFT; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the National Education Association; and the Service Employees International Union gave union members a chance to hear from a panel of the nation’s leading experts on the COVID-19 vaccine. The panelists answered questions on a variety of issues ranging from vaccine safety and efficacy to equitable distribution.

Union holds ‘sweater-weather’ drive for students

This fall has been unnerving for students, their families and school staff in Providence, R.I. But for students there, it’s been mostly just cold. The average age of public school buildings in Rhode Island is 65 years old, explains Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro—and of these schools, Providence has the oldest. By November, the district was still leaving windows and doors open for ventilation. Looking for solutions, the PTU and AFT devised a way to help kids bundle up: the Sweater-Weather Drive for Providence Kids.

Poverty among professors clocked in new survey

A new report from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice has revealed a troubling reality among college and university professors: Despite the presumed prestige of the profession, many academics are underpaid and overworked, with 38 percent of instructional staff unable to even meet their basic needs, including food and housing. “Yes, college students are struggling, and that’s truly horrible,” said one respondent. “Unfortunately, many of their instructors are, too.”​

Grief among students: Tools for educators facing a wave of loss

As COVID-19 sweeps through communities across the nation, educators are on the frontlines witnessing unprecedented grief and loss among their students. In a new survey from the AFT and the New York Life Foundation, 95 percent of educators say that providing social and emotional support has never been more important, and most say they need more preparation to provide it. The AFT is offering resources to help.​

Continuing the fight for equity after the election

Keep your foot on the gas. Don’t let up. This message, from AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram, characterized the determination displayed during the most recent “Many Threads, One Fabric” event Dec. 3, where five justice warriors discussed postelection steps for activists. Among their priorities: pandemic relief, the U.S. Senate election in Georgia, appointing more Latinx leaders, re-establishing Native nations relations, and advocating for racial equity for Black people, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Latinx people, Indigenous people and other people of color.

Town hall features vaccine experts to address members’ questions

As COVID-19 cases surge to record highs nearly every day in the U.S., the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine that would be available as soon as the end of this year has sparked both hope and concern. To answer questions and address concerns of union members surrounding the development of a vaccine, three of the nation’s leading experts on vaccines took part in a virtual town hall on Dec. 2, sponsored by the AFT; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; and the Service Employees International Union.

AFT affiliates give Houston educators what they need: A voice

Houston educators voted overwhelmingly to make the Houston Federation of Teachers and the Houston Educational Support Personnel their exclusive representatives in formal consultation with school administrators. “This vote is a huge victory for the educators and school staff in Houston, and the entire public school community as well,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Philly’s University of the Arts says ‘Union Yes’

Faculty at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia have voted resoundingly to join the AFT, tallying a whopping 99 percent “yes” vote in an election that was finalized Nov. 24. Now, 356 full- and part-time faculty will have a voice in the way workers are treated at their university and a shot at improved job security, livable wages, reasonable workloads, adequate health insurance and more.