WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers’ executive council voted today to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary as the party’s nominee for president in 2020. The union represents 1.7 million educators, healthcare professionals and public employees across more than 3,000 locals.
The announcement comes after an unprecedented year of AFT member engagement around the 2020 election and the endorsement process, with more than 300,000 members nationwide participating in candidate events, town halls, polls, regional conferences and other efforts to maximize member participation leading up to the November election.
The AFT’s endorsement decision has been guided by three criteria: selecting a candidate who shares the union’s values, who has the support of the union’s members, and who can ultimately defeat President Trump in November. Internal union polling over the last two weeks has demonstrated that members, like Democrats across the nation, have coalesced behind the former vice president: he earned a majority (60 percent) of member support in all of the union’s constituencies and leads his nearest competitor by a 2 to 1 margin. 75 percent of the Democratic membership support the AFT making an endorsement in the primary.
“Before the COVID-19 epidemic, the 2020 election was about the soul of our country. Now it’s about our soul, our safety, our health, our security and our economic well-being. Joe Biden is the experienced and empathic leader our country needs right now,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “His character was forged getting up and going to work every day and trying to make life better for his family, facing the ups and downs so many of us face; it was tested by unspeakable loss and grief in life; and it was nurtured through public service, a love of people and the belief in the dignity of every human.”
Weingarten continued: “Biden is with us on investing in public education; making college a reality for everyone; fixing the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness program; making healthcare a human right, not a privilege for the wealthy; prioritizing clean energy and environmental justice; and building an economy that respects the value of workers’ voices. His whole career has been devoted to building a pathway to the middle class for the millions of people facing an affordability crisis daily. It’s time to give him the chance to do that as president.
“In this moment of worldwide crisis, the contrast with Trump is clear. Our country is navigating the greatest challenge we have battled in generations, and it is essential that we rally around a candidate who can show courage, conviction and compassion in the face of uncertainty.
“Throughout this national emergency, the president and his administration have failed to secure testing and personal protective equipment to safeguard our frontline healthcare providers, have attempted to conceal the severity of the virus and downplay the public health risks, and have refused to deploy the full arsenal of the federal government’s resources, leaving the difficult work of leadership to our nation’s governors. Now more than ever, we need a standard-bearer who is actually looking out for us, and who has a proven track record of steering the country successfully through economic and social upheaval.
“From the beginning, our endorsement process and ultimate decision was guided by three principles: finding a candidate who shares our values, who has a clear path to victory, and who enjoys the support of a clear majority of our members. That time has come, and that candidate is Joe Biden.”