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!
Registered nurses at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Portland, Ore., voted overwhelmingly on June 19 to join the Oregon Nurses Association. Unity Center is a 24-hour psychiatric emergency room and behavioral health center that is run by Legacy Health. The 200 nurses at Unity Center have been working to organize with the ONA to improve community healthcare, create a safe environment for patients and staff, gain a real voice in decision-making, and ensure fair representation for workers and compassionate treatment for patients.
AFT President Randi Weingarten and other international leaders gathered in Geneva June 17 to demand that the United Nations Human Rights Council address human rights abuses against children at the U.S.-Mexico border. “In the past five months, 2,500 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border,” Weingarten told a crowd of about 100 people, adding that the actions continued despite a judge’s order to stop the separations and to reunify the children. “Six children have died [in the last six months],” she said. “We are saying to the Human Rights Council: Hear us and help us!”
The City Union of Baltimore and the AFT are launching efforts to bolster safety and help members with grief counseling after the death June 3 of Trina Cunningham, a CUB member, at the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore. Cunningham was a supervisor at the city plant, where it appears that she fell through a catwalk into a vat of wastewater. Her body was recovered downstream. “All of us are deeply saddened at the tragic death of Trina Cunningham,” said CUB President Antoinette Ryan-Johnson, adding that the death calls into question workplace safety protocols. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation is investigating; the AFT expects to file a complaint soon.
Public employees in Alaska are bracing themselves for a wave of pink slips, and the University of Alaska is beginning to plan for at least a $5 million cut in funding as the state moves through the final stages of a drawn-out budget battle. Weeks after the state legislative session was scheduled to end, lawmakers finally passed a budget bill June 10, recommending $190 million in cuts—better than the governor’s proposal to cut $1.6 billion, but still gouging essential public services like education, healthcare and transportation. The governor has yet to sign the bill and could veto parts of it; the AFT and our affiliates continue to fight to preserve what we can.
School support staff from across New York descended on their state capital last week to support a package of laws that would make schools safer. With just a few days left in the legislative session, activists from New York State United Teachers are unleashing passionate arguments for student safety, meeting one-on-one with their lawmakers, writing newspaper op-eds and sharing their solidarity across social media. The four-part legislation aims to curb workplace violence in schools; place an attendant on every K-6 school bus; install stop-arm cameras on buses; and establish due process and fair labor protections.
Nurses are organizing and taking a stand to demand safe staffing because they know that limiting the number of patients they care for at one time makes a difference in their ability to do their jobs effectively.
University of Chicago graduates have held walk-outs and work-ins, petitioned university administrators and appealed to alumni, pressing resistant university administrators to recognize their union. On June 5 the grads escalated to a third day on the picket line, demanding that, nearly two years after they officially formed Graduate Students United, the university stop ignoring them and grant them status for collective bargaining, grievances and all the other rights of union workers.
That old wolf in sheep’s clothing, privatization, is still menacing public services. Leaders from across the nation representing members of AFT Public Employees swapped strategies on overcoming privatization at their program and policy council meeting in May.