Friday, December 30, 2016

A Year-End Message From the AFT Leadership

Dear Members,
Before 2016 comes to a close, we want to say thank you.

The holidays are a time for reflection and gratitude. As polarizing as this year has been—and as disappointing as the results of the presidential election were—there is still much we accomplished and much to fight for ahead. 

This year, you and hundreds of thousands of others participated in organizing actions—in person and online—that helped make a real difference in people’s lives every day.

When Detroit teachers and school staff spoke up about dangerous conditions in schools, you signed petitions and shared their stories. Thanks to their courage and your solidarity, we made it a national story, secured resources to make the schools safe for kids and adults, and eventually ensured that Detroit communities regained control over their schools.

When Long Island University took the unprecedented step of locking out its staff, your contributions supported those locked-out educators, while tens of thousands of petition signatures and tweets helped end the lockout and get students and professors back into the classroom.

This year, Share My Lesson has exceeded 1 million users and 11 million downloads—providing educators across the country with lesson plans, teaching resources and so much more. 

Through our Innovation Fund, cities from Peoria to Miami to New York City to Daly City, Calif., are launching community schools as well as career and technical education programs.

When we joined with other healthcare and social service unions to petition the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for comprehensive workplace violence prevention standards, tens of thousands of petition signatures helped us secure meetings and a path forward with OSHA. And while we may not receive the same reception from the president-elect’s administration, we will work to protect everything health-related, from defending the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare, to fighting forward for patient safety and workplace protections. And we will do that not just in Washington, D.C., but in state capitals and at bargaining tables from New Jersey to our newest unit of hospital workers at PeaceHealth Southwest in Vancouver, Wash.

And just a few weeks ago, when Donald Trump attacked a Steelworkers local president on Twitter, our union brothers and sisters—in solidarity—fought back on the president-elect's favorite medium, Twitter. Not only did Donald Trump see labor stand up for a brother, but Donald Trump stood down.

These are just a few examples—but in fights little and big, this activism will be crucial in the coming years.

And while the presidential election didn't go our way—although we did win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes—when kids and schools were on the ballot, we won in red states like Georgia and blue states like Massachusetts.

It’s clear from ballot measures, funding levies and school board races—people want to strengthen and improve public education, not undermine it. That’s why we’ll fight to stop the Betsy DeVos nomination, why we’re holding a national day of action with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools on Jan. 19— to protect our students and our public schools. And we’ll keep asking you to speak up online and offline to defend our schools.

It’s clear that people want to support and protect our students—regardless of their background, beliefs, their identity or expression. That’s why tens of thousands signed our petition with the Southern Poverty Law Center asking for Donald Trump to disavow the toxic rhetoric and condemn the violence and bigotry that followed his election.

It’s clear that Americans want to be able to see their healthcare providers without going broke, to be able to afford their prescriptions and to safely visit the hospital. We’ll fight the nomination of Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and we’ll defend and work to expand the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid.

If we saw one thing in 2016, it’s that when people understand what we’re fighting for, they want to join us. That’s why we will redouble our efforts to help people connect politicians and policy—and that starts with listening to and engaging our members and communities.

Your activism online is a critical way we reach your friends, your families, your neighbors and colleagues. Sometimes it may seem small. But, taken together, our actions have made a real difference in 2016, and they’ll keep making a difference in 2017.

In 2016, you made a difference. Your voice helped make a difference for students in Detroit who now have safer classrooms. For healthcare professionals from New Jersey to Oregon who have respect on the job, and patients who have safer healing conditions. For teachers and staff in Chicago who have more support and a stronger voice on the job. These are just a few of the wins you helped us achieve.

From all of us at the AFT, thank you. 

Randi Weingarten


Lorretta Johnson


Mary Cathryn Ricker

Executive Vice-President 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Columbia Challenges Vote by Graduate Students to Unionize

The battle over whether graduate students at universities can unionize entered a new phase on Friday, when Columbia University filed a challenge with the National Labor Relations Board over the recent vote by its graduate assistants to unionize.

Columbia said that tactics like voter coercion may have tipped the balance in favor of the union and that the N.L.R.B. should invalidate the vote.

Click here for the full story.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

President of United Steelworkers 1999 Stands Up to Attacks

The Washington Post's Libby Casey and Danielle Paquette sit down, Dec. 8, with Chuck Jones, the Indianapolis union leader who President-elect Donald Trump attacked on Twitter. (The Washington Post)