Member engagement tops convention agenda in Pittsburgh

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Welcome to Pittsburgh—land of steel and sports, and home to Mister Rogers’ neighborhood! Over the next four days, more than 3,000 AFT members from across the country will gather at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh to celebrate our members’ work to mobilize for the challenges ahead through member engagement and political action.

It's the AFT's 85th convention, and this year's theme—"We care. We fight. We show up. We vote."—defines the best way to confront the challenges our members face. The gathering will be unique for the educators, health professionals and public employees who make up the AFT's membership, with its focus on efforts by members to get actively engaged to keep our union strong in the post-Janus era.

The meeting kicks off July 13, with greetings from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. AFT President Randi Weingarten will then set the tone with her keynote address. Delegates will also hear from Hillary Clinton, who will join Weingarten to be presented with the AFT Women's Rights Award.

Over the next few days, delegates can look forward to hearing speakers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). They’ll also hear from candidates running for office—Randy Bryce, who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Brandon Johnson, an AFT member who is running for Cook County (Ill.) commissioner.

During the business portions of the convention, the delegates themselves will have an opportunity to be heard too. They will consider resolutions on a range of timely issues, including taking collective action to promote public education, fighting austerity and increasing funding for public services, tackling student debt, and creating a healthcare system that eliminates healthcare inequalities.

In addition to important convention business, delegates will attend a delegate reception at the Senator John Heinz History Center on Friday evening. You can check out some of the museum’s exhibits: An exhibit about “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (which was filmed in Pittsburgh) features original set pieces and exclusive artifacts from the TV show. You can also explore Pittsburgh sports memorabilia, trace Western Pennsylvania history in “From Slavery to Freedom,” and learn about the Heinz Co.’s history and innovations, including its famous pickles.

Be sure to put on your rally gear for the March for Equitable Funding for Public Schools in downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday. And after the rally, you can sit in on the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools' panel discussion, “AROS: The Resistance Is Rising,” on the fight for the public schools all our students deserve.

At Sunday’s “Janus Open Forum: Questions Asked and Answered,” AFT President Randi Weingarten and staff from the AFT’s legal department and organization and field services department will discuss the recent Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.

All this—along with divisional meetings and breakfasts, and the Human Rights Luncheon—means we’re in for a productive and inspiring convention. Let’s make the most of our time in Pittsburgh!