A call for school reopening and reimagining public education

AFT President Randi Weingarten delivered a landmark address May 13 outlining her vision for reopening schools, helping students recover and reimagining public education, as the country emerges from the COVID-19 crisis. Amid a polarized national education debate and lingering fears among parents over school safety, Weingarten backed the Biden administration’s deployment of billions in federal resources for full five-days-a-week reopening of schools and launched an unprecedented $5 million “Back to School for Everyone” campaign to realize it.

Fighting anti-Asian American racism and hate in all its forms

This year, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month takes on more meaning because of an increase in hate crimes, AFT President Randi Weingarten said as she opened the AFT’s May 11 virtual town hall, “Freedom to Thrive: Combating Anti-Asian Hate.” The panel of AAPI leaders outlined the facts on anti-AAPI racism, described its history and considered solutions like the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, bystander intervention trainings, ethnic studies and teaching Asian American history in schools.

Honoring George Floyd with a vision for the future

There is something powerful happening at George Floyd Square, a place where people go to honor the dead and to protest police brutality, but also a place of change and hope. Building community in a place of trauma, activists—including AFT members and staff—are envisioning a better world and making concrete demands to build it.

AFT citizenship clinics change immigrant lives

Many immigrant workers in Houston were able to make significant strides toward becoming U.S. citizens at a May 1 citizenship clinic sponsored by the AFT, Texas AFT and Houston-area AFT locals and featuring help from attorneys from the Equal Justice Center. Volunteers helped lead participants through the complicated naturalization process and handed out free books for families as well. “We know the naturalization process is daunting,” said AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus. “But we are here—presente—to help.”

AFT’s health professionals push OSHA for a COVID standard

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most challenging public health crisis the U.S. has seen in decades. In the last year, the pandemic has drastically impacted our members and their families, and our union has lost more than 300 members to COVID-19. For more than a year, nurses and health professionals have strived to provide care for patients while their hospitals and government safety watchdogs have made choices that put them at risk.

Town hall honors AFT members on Workers Memorial Day

Every year on April 28, Workers Memorial Day, the labor movement remembers workers who have been injured or killed on the job. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the day takes on a deeper meaning. AFT President Randi Weingarten describes the pandemic as one of the most significant workplace hazards in a generation. On April 27, the AFT held a town hall to honor our members and the work they have done to make a difference in the lives of others.

How-to: Talking about racism in the workplace

The Many Threads, One Fabric town hall series sponsored a lively session April 22 about how to have those “courageous conversations” so often referenced when we talk about racism, sexism and all the other “isms” that perpetuate inequity and discrimination. Featuring counseling professional Leven “Chuck” Wilson, the session framed truth and mercy as essential to progress, and recognized the challenge of meeting anger and frustration with calm recognition of our differences.

Workplace violence bill gets new life

Nurses and health professionals are one step closer to federal protection from workplace violence with the passage of the Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195) in the U.S. House of Representatives April 16. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) introduced the measure to help workers like Carol Grant who has been a nurse for 17 years. She is no stranger to dealing with patients or family members who get violent. Workplace violence has gotten worse, especially in the last three or four years, she says: “It is definitely happening more and more in the workplace. You try and make excuses, but it just gets really out of hand sometimes.” Check out AFT’s workplace prevention toolkit. http://www.aft.org/wpvact

Climate activists, labor agree: ‘Our movements have to be intersectional’

The AFT brought together an engaging town hall panel on April 13 to discuss advancing a labor-climate agenda, including actress and activist Jane Fonda, Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement, and Michael Regan of the Environmental Protection Agency. The discussion was led by AFT President Randi Weingarten. “We are at the crossroads of standing up for a stronger, fairer democracy; a cleaner, more livable planet; and a more just, sustainable economy, … of helping build toward a world where all of this can thrive,” said Weingarten. “Our movements have to be intersectional because one justice movement doesn’t survive without the other.”