Report on the AFT executive council winter meetings 2015

Union governance might seem distant or dry, but the opening day of our winter executive council meetings set the tone for our union’s work this year. Here’s a quick recap of a few moments that stood out.

We began with a tribute to our late colleague Linda Bridges. Linda was a friend, an ally and a powerful voice for our members and the communities we serve.

Our political and legislative teams led a conversation on how we’re fighting back against anti-worker policies from New York to New Mexico.

And we can’t talk about politics without an eye toward 2016. Our executive council discussed the process of making a presidential endorsement, so we are prepared to support a candidate who will stand strong for our values.

Near and dear to my heart, we had a frank and honest conversation about our recent trip to Israel, and our responsibility—as Israel’s allies, as unionists and as a social justice union—to do our part to help bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict.

At home, we renewed our commitment to a social justice issue that deeply impacts our communities, reaffirming our support for the president’s actions to fix our broken immigration system. (Tomorrow, we’ll hear specifics on how our locals are responding to our recent resolution on assisting unaccompanied children.)

We had a long and thorough discussion about our efforts to ensure that any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act includes fixes to the problems created by No Child Left Behind. From focus groups around the country, it’s clear our members have three top priorities, and we committed to fighting for their vision. Those are:

  • Reduce the misuse of high-stakes testing, which is sapping the joy out of teaching and learning
  • Hold teachers and schools accountable, but do it fairly and transparently
  • Return the focus of ESEA to its original intent—helping kids who need it most by addressing the effects of poverty in our schools

And of course we dealt with our budget and the efforts we’re making to ensure we are responsible stewards of the money our members work so hard to earn.

And finally, we moved forward to end our boycott of Coca-Cola, in light of the company’s willingness and good-faith effort to address our concerns and work with us to protect workers and act as a responsible corporate citizen. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Coca-Cola in that effort.

We’ll provide another update after tomorrow’s session!