AFT Convention Daily: July 28, 2020

Randi Weingarten addresses convention attendees

Weingarten: AFT is fighting crises with activism and elections

In her State of the Union address, AFT President Randi Weingarten outlined three national crises—a public health crisis, an economic crisis and a crisis of racial justice, all made worse by Donald Trump. Kicking off the AFT’s virtual convention, Weingarten detailed a robust plan for addressing these crises through activism and elections, especially by sending Joe Biden to the White House and electing a Senate that will support his progressive agenda.

AFT Action Center

Lorretta Johnson honored with Bayard Rustin Award

In honor of her 54 years as a labor activist and leader, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson was presented with the Bayard Rustin Award at the opening session of AFT’s convention. Johnson encouraged PSRPs to continue advancing the values of the union. “There was a time when some folks didn’t think paraprofessionals and support employees could be leaders,” Johnson recalled. “I am an example of what people can achieve when they are given a fair opportunity.”

Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science

AFT nurses COVID panel

The pandemic from the frontlines

AFT President Randi Weingarten led a panel of AFT nurses sharing their experiences from the frontlines. They said it’s disheartening to see mask wearing politicized and public health experts’ advice disregarded under Trump, expressed appreciation for the PPE purchased by the AFT, and offered two hopes: to elect a president who will unite Americans in this crisis while listening to science, and to slow the transmission of COVID-19 by wearing masks, observing social distancing and washing our hands.

AFT Heroes honored

AFT members honored for stepping up and speaking out

During the coronavirus pandemic, AFT members are stepping up to meet the needs of the people they serve. The AFT honored two members who earned the national spotlight with their efforts: Yolanda Fisher, a food service manager, who prepared and packaged meals for Dallas students and their families while schools were closed because of the pandemic, and Trung Le, a registered nurse, who spoke up about the need for personal protective equipment in hospitals.

AFT Contingent Faculty Survey

Reopening schools.

To ensure students’ safety, strikes could be used as a last resort

As the Trump administration pressures schools to reopen despite insufficient COVID-19 safety measures, the AFT has announced it will “use every action and tool available” to fight unsafe school reopening plans—including “supporting local and/or state affiliate safety strikes on a case-by-case basis as a last resort.” Members are already participating in town halls, lobbying efforts and even lawsuits to keep their communities safe and their students engaged in learning.

State of the Union report 2018-2020

New resolutions on safety, a ‘shero’ and more

On their first day of business, delegates at the AFT convention passed four resolutions addressing a range of topics: guidelines on safely reopening child care and early childhood education post-pandemic, a path to a safe return to work for public sector employees, the continuing fight against private prisons and mass incarceration, and a tribute to outgoing AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson. They also expanded AFT retiree participation with a new program and policy council.

Benefits for members only

Coming tomorrow:

  • Black Lives Matter Panel
  • Economic Panel with Randi Weingarten and author Anand Giridharadas
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

This daily update is produced by the AFT communications department.