Press Release

AFT Launches $1 Million Ad Campaign Urging Senate to Pass HEROES Act

TV and Online Spots Make Case that America Can’t Fight COVID-19 or Reopen without Support for Educators and Essential Workers

For Release:


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers today launched a $1 million ad buy to tell the U.S. Senate to fund, rather than forfeit, the future by passing the HEROES Act so teachers and frontline workers can combat the coronavirus and safely reopen schools and the economy.

The spot, “Essential,” airing in 30-second and 15-second versions across the country, show AFT members feeding our kids and helping them learn amid the pandemic. With states and cities slashing services and virus cases spiking, and the Federal Reserve making clear there is no magical economic recovery that can happen without it, billions in federal support is urgently needed to avoid cuts, layoffs and other decisions that would cripple the virus response and send the economy further into freefall.

The ads feature West Warwick High School (Rhode Island) engineering teacher Mike Shunney and T.W. Browne Middle School (Texas) cafeteria manager and food service supervisor Yolanda Fisher. Shunney is conducting a virtual class with his students, showing them how to design and create face shields for nurses with a 3D printer. Fisher has been providing meals to students and families since the pandemic started.

They urge viewers to call their senators to take up the HEROES Act—passed by the House last month—to ensure essential workers can get the help they need. Instead of acting, the Senate seems content to sit on its hands over the summer—at the exact time lawmakers need to step on the gas.

The spots, also appearing on Facebook, will run for two weeks, starting Friday, on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in 10 states and Washington, D.C.: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They were produced by AL Media.

“If the HEROES Act fails to pass, and states and schools don’t get the support they need to reopen safely, then they’ll stay shut and the economy will stall—it’s that simple,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “America is in the midst of a triple crisis: a health crisis, an economic recession and systemic racism, all made worse by a president who wants to divide, not heal. Kids are traumatized, parents and educators are on edge, and many frontline workers are risking their own health to battle the virus.

“There are no magic fixes—the only path to recovery is a stimulus package that funds, rather than forfeits, our future. We urgently need the federal dollars included in the HEROES Act to help states, cities, towns and schools weather this rolling storm. If we fail to act, essential services will be gutted and hundreds of thousands more educators, healthcare workers and public employees will be laid off. This would make these three crises worse, not better—and it’s only fixable if Senate Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump act now.”

30-second script

Voiceover: Ask yourself...

VO: In these challenging times, who is essential?

VO: Where are the frontlines?

VO: How can we reopen...

VO: Without teachers…

Nat Sound: (Teacher)

You can snap it on, and then you can put it on your head.

Student: Yes…

VO: and caregivers?

VO: We must fund our public schools and community services.

Nat Sound: Thank you!

VO: We can’t afford to forfeit our future.

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The AFT represents 1.7 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.