Vaccines for children could be the ‘game changer’

Now that children ages 5 to 11 are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, parents and educators have questions, and the AFT’s Facebook Live town hall on Nov. 18 gave people a chance to have experts address their concerns. Participants heard from Assistant Surgeon General Rear Admiral Aisha Mix, who is also known as the nation’s chief nursing officer, as well as AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and parents from Massachusetts and Texas.

AFT launches School Meals for All campaign

Together with a local affiliate, the AFT on Nov. 18 kicked off an ambitious new campaign—School Meals for All—which aims to expand the federal school meals programs so that all children attending the nation’s public schools will have access to a free, tasty and nutritious breakfast and lunch every school day.

Strike averted with groundbreaking adjunct contract in California

Just hours before a strike would have shuttered classes at nine University of California campuses, University Council-AFT—the union representing 6,500 lecturers—announced it had a tentative agreement and the action was called off. After 2 1/2 years of negotiations and a final bargaining session that lasted until 4 a.m., UC-AFT President Mia McIver calls the contract “the best contract in UC-AFT history and among the best nationwide for contingent faculty,” with “transformative” measures for job security, pay raises and expanded family leave.

Weingarten to striking members: ‘Your union supports you 1,000 percent’

Thousands of workers across the country have taken part in strikes or labor actions this fall. On Nov. 8, Scranton Federation of Teachers President Rosemary Boland, Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals President Jodi Barschow and University Council-AFT President Mia McIver joined AFT President Randi Weingarten during a Facebook Live town hall to discuss their conflicts and why their members are either on strike or have voted to strike.

Lifting Latinx voices in schools and reimagining the old ‘normal’

A panel of Latinx experts gathered for what award-winning journalist Mariana Atencio called a “very raw, very current” conversation about how Latinx families can support students beginning to emerge from the depths of the pandemic, and how educators can connect student learning, mental health and family engagement. Panelists, including AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus, explored the challenges unique to Latinx families and how AFT members can help meet them.

Spreading the word: Student debt relief is here

As word spreads that student debt relief for public service workers is actually within reach, the AFT held a town hall to be sure every member can take advantage of changes that should put them closer to loan forgiveness. The session included details about how borrowers who have been refused Public Service Loan Forgiveness can now use a temporary waiver to qualify—and it reviewed how anAFT’s lawsuit helped win the changes that make that possible. “Our goal is to make sure that everyone sees a zero balance in their student debt account,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

AFT civil rights conference underscores building community as the way forward

The AFT Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Conference covered a broad intersection of human rights issues, from racism and immigration rights to foundational civil rights history and LGBTQIA+ intersectionality, with inspirational speakers and gatherings as well as sessions on strategizing to fight for the policy we need to become a more equitable and just society. “We got this,” AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick C. Ingram told participants. “You are the game changers. Whether it is litigation, legislation, demonstration, agitation or sometimes sheer damn aggravation, we got this.”

Unions hold colleges accountable on equity

With diversity, equity and inclusion statements now part of the landscape at colleges and universities, activists have been hopeful that campus culture would finally show signs of opening up and—after years of advocacy—Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander students and staff could take their rightful place in academia. But despite grand intentions, follow-through action is often lacking. Enter union members, who have persistently attended to the details, ensuring paychecks begin to reflect proclamations and universities make good on their lofty promises.

Healthcare workers in Oregon vote to authorize a strike against Kaiser

Nearly 3,400 healthcare workers from Kaiser Permanente in Oregon moved closer to hitting the picket lines this week after they voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals said that 90 percent of its members, whose contracts expired on Sept. 30, voted; 96 percent favored a strike. Safe staffing and wages are at the heart of the contract fight. Instead of presenting proposals to solve the staffing crisis, OFNHP says that Kaiser executives have offered low wages and a “two-tiered” system that would mean new workers would make much less than their colleagues and accelerate the staffing crisis.

Together again, honoring the work of public employees

For the first time since 2017, members of AFT Public Employees came together for a professional issues conference Oct. 8-10 in New York City. It was the AFT’s first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic, and it drew all three of our national officers to honor and learn from members who had never stopped doing essential work.