WASHINGTON—In the days leading up to and following April 4, the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates will be part of a broad national coalition of community groups, unions and citizens taking part in “We Are One” events—calling for an end to bashing and blaming teachers and other public employees for state budget problems they did not cause, and recognizing that we must turn to these workers to help make our communities strong.
We remember April 4, 1968—the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers who were fighting for a voice in the workplace through collective bargaining. Sadly, the struggle for voice at work continues today, as governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Scott of Florida are using their budget crises to eliminate the voice of educators, nurses, firefighters and other public employees in their workplaces and to recklessly cut education funding and other public services. A particularly egregious example is the move by Scott to slash payments for group homes and other rehabilitation organizations for people with disabilities in the Medicaid waiver program.
AFT affiliates are sponsoring or participating in hundreds of “We are One” events nationwide next week to fight for economic dignity and fairness, so that those who have the least get the most help, and to ensure that the services we deliver are the best they can be. More than 38,000 people also took the pledge on the AFT’s website to make a difference and stand together with the union and its allies by participating in activities to support fairness, economic and educational opportunity, justice, democracy and workers’ voice.
“This is a time for our nation to turn to public employees, instead of turning against them. But we can’t do it all. To govern is to choose—and some governors across the country are making damaging choices,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “These political ideologues have launched an all-out assault on the men and women who teach our children, care for our sick, and keep our neighborhoods clean and safe.”
“This is not just a moment in time but a movement by citizens of all stripes who are standing up and fighting for democracy, fairness, and policies that put the needs of everyday people ahead of politics and profits,” Weingarten said.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of public activities taking place involving AFT members and leaders:
April 4—Rally in Philadelphia at Temple University to protest budget cuts proposed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. AFT President Randi Weingarten will speak at the event.
April 4—March and rally in downtown San Francisco. AFT Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese will speak at the rally.
April 6–8—AFT Washington and a large coalition of civil rights groups, immigrant rights groups, labor unions, student groups and faith-based groups will convene three days of action on the Capitol grounds in Olympia, Wash.
April 9—New York State United Teachers will lead a rally to support workers’ rights in Times Square in New York City. AFT President Randi Weingarten will speak at the event.
April 9—Thousands of union members and progressive allies are expected for an all-Illinois rally in downtown Chicago.
For more details on these events and a complete listing of “We Are One” activities around the nation, visit: www.we-r-1.org.
To view and sign the AFT’s “We Are One” pledge, visit www.aft.org/pledge.