Please enjoy a few shots from our EOTY Luncheon. We were grateful to have a powerful presentation from the volunteers at the Eastern Service Workers Association. If you would like more information on their group, what they do, and how YOU can help contact them at 609-695-9562. Through our commitment to donate to them yearly, we know that we are supporting the rights of those who are vulnerable, one of the hallmarks of a strong union!
Rhode Island College may be the neglected “middle child” of public higher education in the state, with faculty who are paid 30 percent less than their peers at the state’s larger university and students who have no access to the free college program offered at the state’s community college. But RIC faculty union members are working to change all that, advocating at the state level for better access to free tuition for all Rhode Island students, improvements to the school of education, and pay raises that will at least bring them up to the national average for professors at similar institutions. They’ll be visiting legislators, rallying and fighting as their campaign, Respect RIC, continues throughout the fall.
Graduate employees at Brown University and Georgetown University are on their way to a union election, taking an historic approach to gaining recognition and a pathway to collective bargaining. Rejecting the Trump-dominated National Labor Relations Board, they are instead planning union recognition elections supervised by the American Arbitration Association this fall. At Brown, a strong majority of the 1,250 graduate employees have already indicated support for their union, Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees, and at Georgetown, a similarly robust majority of the school’s 1,000 graduate workers have backed the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees. Both unions are affiliated with the AFT.
Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race couldn’t offer a starker choice between the current anti-education governor, Scott Walker and challenger Tony Evers, who is a career educator and current state superintendent. The AFT is all in for the race: AFT Wisconsin has endorsed Evers, and members recently joined AFT President Randi Weingarten to talk with him about reversing the devastating budget cuts and threats to academic freedom that Walker has wrought upon the state.
As President Trump sets up tent cities for immigrant children along the southern border—places where children will be warehoused for undetermined weeks at a time, with no access to their legal right to education—the AFT and more than 70 other advocacy organizations are fighting back with a new initiative that underscores the fact that it is illegal to prevent children from attending school, regardless of their immigration status. The initiative also provides practical tools educators can use to protect the undocumented children in their own classrooms.
A class-action suit filed in federal court sets out serious allegations that student loan servicer Navient has misled borrowers in public service professions from accessing a loan forgiveness program to boost its own profits. The landmark complaint, which seeks millions in damages and class-wide injunctive relief, details a spate of systematic misrepresentations, untruths and misdirection pedaled by Navient to stop borrowers from enrolling in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a 10-year payoff plan administered by rival servicer FedLoan.
More than 120 AFT members took in a rich professional development series presented by the AFT at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference Sept. 12-16 in Washington, D.C. Along with practical sessions on classroom practice the conference, which included presentations by all three AFT executive officers, focused on fighting the destructive education policy of the Trump administration, ensuring that equity continues to be a robust part of public education and communicating the urgency of getting out the vote this November.
Our members in Detroit have joined the response to the Detroit school water crisis. Precipitated by lead and copper water test results, the Detroit school system has shut off drinking water to all schools for the foreseeable future. AFT Detroit members are organizing to make sure that their students and colleagues have access to safe drinking water for the duration of the crisis.
Pressure is mounting for the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington to come to an agreement on a new contract with its nurses. The nurse members of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals have been negotiating for months for safe staffing and competitive wages at the hospital. Their current contract expired July 9. Recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on the hospital's board of trustees "to take a more active role in the contract negotiations between management and the nurses' union."
The AFT was out in full force at last week’s Labor Council for Latin American Advancement convention in Puerto Rico Aug. 8-11. As Latin American workers continue to lag behind their white colleagues, and as appalling immigration policies plague the country, AFT leaders joined more than 400 delegates from a cross section of the labor movement, working to forge a better future and addressing equitable education, protections for immigrant workers, the economic impact of anti-union attacks on the island and across the country and the power of the Latino vote.
Oregon nurses collect donated school supplies
With back to school right around the corner, members from the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals recently held a school supply drive with the goal of sending 100 Portland-area children back to their classes with everything they need to succeed.