WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers has launched its largest and deepest political endorsement effort ahead of the pivotal 2020 presidential election.
The 1.7 million-member union, comprising 3,500 locals, went live today with a website, AFTvotes.org, and kicked off its inaugural “Walk a Day” campaign to invite candidates to spend a day in the shoes of an AFT member to better understand the challenges and issues our members face in the workplace.
The AFT Votes website includes extensive information on how members can actively participate throughout the endorsement process. It will help members learn more about the candidates and gauge where they stand on key issues, provide resources for members running for office, and more.
AFT members are K-12 teachers and paraprofessionals, healthcare workers, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees who, according to President Randi Weingarten, “reflect the heart and soul of this country.”
Earlier this year, the AFT executive council passed a unanimous motion to establish guiderails for our 2020 presidential endorsement process, with a specific focus on deep engagement and honest conversations before any decision can be made. Members are encouraged to consult directly and extensively with campaigns and only come together behind a candidate when the time is right.
Last night, 30,000 members and activists joined a national telephone town hall to discuss and debate the process.
“Our No. 1 goal is to elect a President who reflects our values and that means beating Donald Trump in 2020,” Weingarten said. “But to win our endorsement, candidates will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. As we look ahead to Election Day, we are committed to engaging our members at every step of the way.”
The 2020 AFT endorsement process will include a formal candidate questionnaire, member surveys, focus groups, informational videos and unprecedented member involvement in campaigns, including town halls, social media forums and other opportunities to participate in the democratic process to decide who will receive the union’s grass-roots and financial support as November 2020 draws closer.
Weingarten added: “Over the next several months, we hope our members and their families and friends will use this process to make clear their aspirations for this country and for a standard bearer to help achieve them. We will work together to get to know the candidates and look for a leader who shares our values, has a likelihood of winning and is committed to helping all of us achieve a better life, a voice at work and power in our democracy.”