NATIONWIDE—Leaders of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers have embarked on a monthlong, countrywide bus tour to get out the vote and highlight the existential choice confronting a nation embroiled in four crises—a health pandemic, an economic crisis, racism and a climate emergency—all made worse by President Trump.
Now, Trump is putting our democracy on the line—a fifth crisis—by threatening to uproot the peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. He sees the presidency as his to own, not as a position elected by “we the people.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten, newly elected Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus will join the west-to-east tour encompassing 15 states and more than 30 election events in an #AFTvotes-branded bus, in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, starting Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The tour will drive home the central message that this election is about who will help solve the issues that keep us up at night—healthcare, decent wages and jobs, and our kids’ education and future. It’s about the values we believe in—that everyone should have a path toward a better future, that justice and dignity are guaranteed to all, and that everyone is entitled to the freedom and opportunity that is the promise of America.
“Elections are always about choices, but this is the most consequential choice of our lifetimes,” said Weingarten. “Four more years of Trump is an existential threat to the American way of life—our democracy, our healthcare, our public schools and our voice are under attack. Trump not only refuses to pay taxes—he wants to lay waste to the public services we’ve fought for decades to build up. Standing still—and staying silent—is not an option.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the leaders we need to tackle our crises and rebuild a more just and fair America. They will combat the pandemic, address racism and climate change, support public schools and colleges, guarantee healthcare, and rebuild our economy so working families have a shot and a voice.”
The tour will promote and use all of the AFT’s election outreach strategies in this unprecedented year of organizing by engaging members, friends and family through peer-to-peer texting, phone banking and the popular AFTvotes app.
All events will be conducted under strict COVID-19 protocols, and participants will observe mask-wearing and social distancing requirements. The union will distribute personal protective equipment at key sites. Each day’s activities will be broadcast live across the AFT’s social media channels.
Weingarten, Ingram and DeJesus will kick off the tour Wednesday at the El Segundo, Calif., headquarters of Chevron Corp. to join an action in support of California Proposition 15 to fund public services (Chevron is lobbying against the measure). The bus will travel Thursday to Las Vegas, for a canvas kickoff and book distribution event with UNITE HERE President D. Taylor. It will then wind through Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia, before concluding in Florida on Nov. 1.
“The AFT will stop at nothing to end this nightmare, fight for people’s dignity and fulfill this country’s founding promise,” said Weingarten. “And the solution to all of this is activism and voting: by mail or in person, early or on Election Day. Everything we do—this bus tour, the fight for a COVID-19 stimulus, confronting these crises, the Supreme Court fight, our GOTV work—is about preserving our democracy and making people’s lives better.”
The AFT endorsed Biden for president at its online convention in July. All union officers are available for interview.
Projected itinerary (subject to change)
Sept. 30 – Los Angeles, Calif.
Oct. 1 – Las Vegas, Nev.
Oct. 2-3 – Denver, Colo.
Oct. 6 – Kansas City, Kan.
Oct. 9-10 – Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
Oct. 10 – Eau Claire, Wis.
Oct. 13 – Schaumburg, Ill.
Oct. 14 – Hammond/Gary, Ind.
Oct. 15 – Kalamazoo, Mich.
Oct. 16 – Lansing/Dearborn, Mich.
Oct. 17 – Detroit/Dearborn, Mich.
Oct. 19 – Toledo/Cleveland, Ohio
Oct. 20 – Cleveland, Ohio
Oct. 21 – Columbus/Cincinnati, Ohio
Oct. 22 – Pittsburgh, Pa.
Oct. 23 – Scranton, Pa.
Oct. 24 – Philadelphia, Pa.
Oct. 24 – New Jersey (to be confirmed)
Oct. 27 – Raleigh, N.C.
Oct. 28 – Georgia (to be confirmed)
Oct. 29 – Gainesville, Fla.
Oct. 30 – Tampa/Orlando, Fla.
Oct. 31 – Tamarac, Fla.
Nov. 1 – Miami, Fla.