The Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism

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What is the prize?

We have created the Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism in partnership with the Albert Shanker Institute and the AFT Innovation Fund. It recognizes members' outstanding collective work to create solutions that improve their workplaces and communities. The prize is awarded for extraordinary accomplishments that exemplify the AFT's mission of reclaiming the promise of high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, families and communities.

2014 Winners:

Milwaukee Technical College Federation, Local 212 ($25,000 award)

Improving student completion is a pressing issue in higher education, and Local 212 has been at the forefront of efforts to help more students stay in school and finish their educations. The union has championed programs like service learning to help enrich students’ experiences and deeper engagement with their communities. In fact, this advocacy led to the creation of the Center for Engaged & Service Learning, which is led by faculty members and has led to many more opportunities for projects as well as training and support. The number of students graduating from MATC is up. So are overall course completion rates.

United University Professions and the New York State Public Employees Federation ($25,000 award)

Working with the community and clergy, the unions waged a successful campaign to save the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. from privatization. They created a solution that promotes investment in SUNY Downstate as a keystone in the development of comprehensive, quality healthcare for central Brooklyn. The community mainstay has 1,000 physician residents in training and produces more doctors of color than any other medical school in the United States, many of whom go on to work in minority communities.

2013 Winners: 

New York Performance Standards Consortium

Composed of 39 public high schools, the consortium has developed, refined, and implemented curriculums and assessments that serve as an alternative to high-stakes testing. The organization, which has invested heavily in professional development, has led students to higher graduation and college acceptance rates, and lower suspension and dropout rates, when compared with the rest of the state.

AFT Connecticut

Faced with threats from the governor's office of layoffs and deep benefits cuts for public workers, AFT Connecticut worked as part of a statewide labor coalition to implement a new health plan for the state, ultimately saving $1.6 billion and the pensions of state workers.

2013 Honorable Mention:

Charlotte County (Fla.) Support Personnel Association

The Charlotte County Support Personnel Association, in close collaboration with Charlotte County Public Schools, designed and implemented a professional development program to attract, train and retain employees. The voluntary program, called the Charlotte Academy of Support Employees, has been praised by participants for increasing job satisfaction and enhancing their skills.