June 19, 2013
AFT Supports South Korean Education Support Workers
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers expressed support today for the quarter-million South Korean education support workers who are an integral part of students' educational programs yet have no job stability or fair wages based on experience.
About 20,000 education support workers in South Korea, represented by the Korean Public & Social Services and Transportation Workers' Union, Education Workers Solidarity Division (KPTU-EdSol), do not have formal, stable employment status and their wages are not based on years of experience. An education support worker with many years of experience can be paid the same as a worker in his or her first year. KPTU-EdSol members and other education support workers in South Korea are planning a massive rally on June 22, in which tens of thousands of workers are expected to call on the South Korean government to engage in collective bargaining with their union representatives to discuss these and other issues.
"We know that school support workers are the foundation of education, and they play a vital role in improving the quality of the institutions where they work. They are the lifeline of our schools and protect and enrich our students' lives everyday," said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and AFT Vice President Ruby Newbold in a letter to South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Johnson and Newbold are leaders of the AFT's paraprofessionals and school-related personnel division.
"We call on your government to acknowledge the vital work of KPTU-EdSol's members and negotiate with them on the basis of what is just for workers and what is best for students," the AFT leaders said.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.