This years AFT End of the Year Luncheon was about change. Our past president John Krimmel passed the torch to our new president Nancy Lasher. We have high expectations of our incoming president and she has the full support of the Union to achieve all the goals set before her. Nancy has been a part of The College of New Jersey for 25+ years serving in multiple roles across campus, most recently being a professor in the Marketing and Interdisciplinary Business Department. Please join us in welcoming the new President of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2364, Nancy Lasher!
Hillary Clinton headlined an all-day conference, In Defense of Democracy, co-organized by the Albert Shanker Institute, the American Federation of Teachers and Onward Together, Sept. 17 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Her strong warning that democracy is under threat reverberated through her keynote speech as well as panel discussions and presentations with prominent activists, politicians and intellectuals. “The norms and institutions that provide the foundation of our democracy are under assault, and that includes the single most important fight of our times, ... the fight to protect the right to vote,” said Clinton.
Black educators are crucial to the success of students across the nation, and the AFT is committed to ensuring they are able to thrive—by advocating for more accessible pathways to teaching and through professional development series like the one we organized during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Sept. 11 and 12. The series, connected to one of the most influential progressive Washington events of the year, included workshops, a panel discussion and a political luncheon with members of Congress.
It began eight years ago with a heartfelt commitment to help get a rural American community back on its feet. On Sept. 9, the AFT and our partners met in McDowell County, W.Va., to celebrate the official groundbreaking of a four-story apartment building to house educators—the first new multistory structure in Welch in more than 50 years. “This is about more than just a new building. It’s about something even more important: hope,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said at the ceremony.
Jennifer Donaldson wanted to update nurses at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center about ongoing negotiations over nurse recruitment and retention, so she launched a six-minute Facebook Live video during a break from her job as a labor and delivery nurse.
The Chicago Teachers Union is ready to go on strike. Like their colleagues across the nation, these educators are standing up and fighting for better conditions in their public schools – specifically smaller class sizes and more school nurses, social workers, school psychologists, counselors and other critical frontline staff. They need more teachers and paraprofessionals and better services for students—especially students of color—who face high levels of trauma. “If we don’t make more progress,” says CTU President Jesse Sharkey, “This is a union that is prepared to strike.”
Educators are united against President Trump’s proposal to take away food assistance from millions and deny access to free school lunches to half a million kids. Through the AFT’s Fund Our Future campaign, and together with allies like the Food Research and Action Center, we are fighting these proposed changes and holding up the opposite vision: a nation of children who are well-nourished and ready to learn.
The AFT is deeply involved in immigrant advocacy this summer: AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus, along with educators and nurses from several states, traveled to McAllen, Texas, Aug. 14 to check on the condition of the children in the immigrant detention centers. Although they were turned away by border patrol agents, the AFT contingent was able to distribute donations to a relief center. And AFT volunteers are helping reunite families and distribute food and supplies to people detained after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi. “At the end of the day, compassion and dignity and decency should be the watchwords of the United States of America. That is who we are, and that is what we demand of our government,” said Weingarten.
Members of the Miami Dade College faculty are suing the school’s board of trustees, accusing the trustees of hijacking the process for selecting a new college president. The lawsuit is just one part of an angry campus reaction among those who feel the board wants to place a political appointee—one who could have little or no academic experience—at the helm of the largest public college in the nation. United Faculty of Miami Dade College won’t stand for it, says UFMDC President Elizabeth Ramsay. “We'll fight back against the politicization of the search process and fight like hell to protect our students' access to high-quality public higher ed.”
As working class people struggle to pay their bills and educators in particular wind up working second and third jobs to stay afloat, it’s especially galling that the super wealthy enjoy huge tax cuts and corporations rake in more money than ever before. That’s why the AFT is backing the “Tax the Rich” bus tour. Launched during the first presidential primary debates in Miami June 26, the tour involves a bus traveling across the country with the words “Tax the Rich” emblazoned on its side and the message, "When we tax the rich, we all do better.” The tour winds up in Detroit on July 30, during the second primary debate.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced legislation July 23 to forgive student loan debt for tens of thousands of borrowers and, at the same time, help close the racial wealth gap. The new measure would eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for individuals who earn less than $100,000 a year, providing relief to 95 percent of student loan borrowers and canceling student debt entirely for 75 percent of borrowers.