Historic affiliation finalized: AAUP and AFT join forces

Delegates to the biennial meeting of the American Association of University Professors voted June 18 to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers, joining forces to build a more powerful and inclusive academic labor movement that will be better able to take on the challenges facing higher education as well as the threats to our democracy. The vote brings together two organizations representing more than 300,000 higher education faculty members overall, the largest such alliance in the country. Above, members of United Academics of the University of New Mexico, an AFT-AAUP joint affiliate.

New AFT task force focuses on LGBTQIA+ community

It’s Pride Month, but as people are flocking to parades and celebrations, this year the joy is coupled with fear, as attacks on LGBTQIA+ freedom increase—from the attempt to violently disrupt a Pride event in Idaho to threatening educators for teaching about gender. It’s an opportune time for the AFT’s new LGBTQIA+ Task Force to begin meeting and addressing the persecution the LGBTQIA+ community continues to face.

AFT joins March for Our Lives to say: Enough is enough

From Newtown, Conn., to Parkland, Fla., from Lansing, Mich., to Oakland, Calif., AFT members marched with the nation June 11 to end gun violence. On the main stage in Washington, D.C., which drew at least 50,000 participants, students who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland returned to demand again—as they have for the past four years—that Congress pass commonsense measures like universal background checks, red-flag laws and safe storage requirements for firearms.

‘Gag orders’ squelch learning, threaten academic freedom

With dozens of laws proposed to restrict how to teach about race, racism, gender and other potentially sensitive topics, the AFT and the American Association of University Professors joined together to condemn proposed threats to academic freedom and advocate for the unfettered flow of ideas on college campuses as well as in K-12 classrooms. At their panel discussion April 12, leaders laid bare what they called educational gag orders being introduced in state legislatures across the country. “Ultimately … this is an attack on truth and it’s an attack on knowledge,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Hispanic legislators gather with urgency and purpose on education

The 14 million Hispanic children enrolled in America’s public elementary and secondary schools deserve equitable educational opportunities and programs designed to help them thrive. On March 25, the AFT partnered with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and convened the State of Latino Education Summit: Learn, Recover, Reimagine and Thrive to engage with Latino legislators, policy influencers and advocates about ways to ensure that public education supports the success of Latino students from cradle to career.

Support staff tackle extreme shortages, lack of respect

Leaders from the AFT PSRP division, joined by a cadre of new leaders from the ranks of paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, met at AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 13-15 for the first time since the pandemic began. “The gratitude I have for you knows no bounds,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told the crowd. “The grit, the grace, the ability to care. There’s no way to describe it.”

Celebrating student loan relief

“It was like waking up and learning you won the lottery.” That’s just one of the comments flooding the AFT offices from members who are elated to be free of student debt at last. After relentless advocacy, including an AFT lawsuit against former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that was so broken is finally doing what it is supposed to do: delivering relief from student debt for thousands of borrowers. So far, $6.2 billion in student debt has been forgiven for 100,000 public service workers like teachers, nurses and professors.

Oregon nurses show solidarity to raise healthcare standards

Hundreds of frontline nurses who work in Oregon’s Providence health system took part in an informational picket on March 15 outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland to call for better healthcare standards and a fair contract. The nurses, represented by the Oregon Nurses Association, want Providence to improve patient care by addressing staffing and other issues. “Nurses are the foundation of the healthcare profession, and we deserve safer working conditions, affordable healthcare and a contractual commitment to staffing that provides rest periods and takes patient conditions into consideration,” said Jamie Aguilar, an ONA member and home health nurse at Providence.