As some educators begin to return to school buildings, and others continue to teach virtually, many are confronted with a stew of emotions among their students. The AFT is here to help with our Grief-Sensitive Educator project, a collection of webinars, handouts and other resources that provide practical information about how to navigate students’ grief, whether it is pandemic-related or based in the everyday losses all communities experience.
A strategy-savvy, action-focused new AFT faculty local at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater organizes during a pandemic, weathers a tough reopening fight and beats back 67 layoffs. And they’re just getting started.
As part of the Biden administration’s giant push to get the nation past the pandemic and back on its feet, AFT President Randi Weingarten joined environmental and economic justice leaders on March 29 in support of new legislation that dovetails with the AFT’s Freedom for All to Thrive campaign.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the AFT town hall on March 23 featured a conversation about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women, as well as the best ways to make vaccine distribution more equitable amid emerging disparities. The pandemic has disproportionally impacted women in many ways, including higher job losses; greater exposure to COVID-19 because women are often on the frontlines of healthcare and other essential services; and a heavier toll on their mental health.
The pandemic has hit everyone hard, but low-income college students often struggle in the dark, ashamed to admit they are pennies away from being evicted and dropping out of school. AFT faculty have stepped in to help with a growing number of FAST Funds, emergency relief programs that help students with small grants that cover anything from rent checks to books, transportation and food.
The AFT joined several other union and immigrant advocates March 23 to stand in solidarity with workers at a poultry plant in Georgia, where six workers died after a workplace accident. Many of the surviving workers are undocumented immigrants and afraid of repercussions should they come forward with information about working conditions in a place where safety measures could have prevented this tragedy. “An injury to one is an injury to all,” said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram. “We demand justice in the Gainesville community.”
Working people and their advocates are breathing a collective sigh of relief after the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, which provides much-needed funding to accelerate COVID-19 testing and vaccination and to help families struggling with job loss, food insecurity, the threat of homelessness and other challenges related to the pandemic. The landmark bill is expected to cut child poverty in half, extend a lifeline to unemployed people and help fund the safe reopening of schools.