BOSTON—The 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers wrapped its 87th biennial convention today, with union delegates voting overwhelmingly to re-elect President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram, and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus.
Over four packed days, 3,000 delegates debated and passed resolutions on a range of issues—from addressing the promise of public education, to advocating for living wages, to combating the effects of climate change, to tackling the student debt crisis.
They heard from high-profile guests and speakers, including first lady Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, National PTA President Nathan Monell, the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, League of United Latin American Citizens CEO Sindy Benavides and Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine Vice President Olga Chabaniuk.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “Our convention theme was ‘reclaiming our future.’ It was about lifting up our members for their incredible work, making sure they felt seen and heard, and ensuring they left Boston with the tools to put their values into action and help make their kids’, patients’ and communities’ lives better every single day.
“Our delegates and committees put in the work on the issues keeping families up at night, from climate change, to accessible healthcare, to the crushing crisis of student debt, to the terrifying safety issues plaguing too many workplaces. This year was an important reminder of the AFT’s foundations in democracy and our commitment to union work: to stand up and be counted, to live our convictions, and to engage and not withdraw.”
Weingarten, who taught social studies and civics at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., was re-elected to an eighth term, while Ingram, a high school band director in Miami, and DeJesus, an early childhood educator and reading specialist in New York City, were elected to second terms. The union also elected 46 vice presidents.
AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram said: “Through hard work and sacrifice, together in our union, we can fulfill our dreams—for a good life, for meaningful work, for a voice and a vote. I am deeply honored to serve as an officer of our great union. It is with gratitude and great humility that I accept the challenge before me and commit to putting the interests of our members first as we continue to steer this powerful ship forward.”
AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus said: “The last few years have shown that no matter what the world throws at us, as a union, we keep on creating community. The right wing thought they could kill us with Janus. But we not only held our own—we grew and are continuing to grow our union by deepening and strengthening our community. I have the great honor of being re-elected to serve as the executive vice president of the greatest union in the country, and I’ll continue to serve with the goal of equity in mind.”
Delegates passed a range of resolutions, including:
- Community Schools: Helping Students Thrive in Our Schools and Communities, resolving that the AFT will advocate for funding at the federal level dedicated specifically for creating additional community schools and supporting the hiring of community school directors/coordinators to lead the critical work of aligning community services with family and student needs.
- Building a Better Bridge Between Learning and Work Through CTE, Internships and Apprenticeships, resolving to embrace career and technical education as a system of career advising, career-connected learning, followed by an employer-facilitated transition to work and/or further education tied to a career.
- A special order of business to adopt the AFT’s “Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force Report,” which is the culmination of in-depth member surveys, multiple listening sessions, numerous virtual and in-person task force meetings, input from top researchers, the hard work of the AFT elected leaders and staff, and the guidance of AFT national officers.
- Addressing Staffing Shortages in the Healthcare Workforce, pledging the AFT to develop and implement a strategy with its national and state leaders for state laws that mandate staffing ratios or safe patient limits in at least five states by 2025, and to support the work of its affiliates to address workplace violence in legislation, through collective bargaining, and other state and local work of healthcare affiliates.
- School Meals for All, resolving to advocate for and support federal and state legislative actions that ensure all students—regardless of income—have unimpeded access to school meals.
- The Fight for Higher Education, which resolves, among other goals, to create a higher education that is affordable and accessible to all students; cancel the student debt of all borrowers who are suffering because of the unjust way we finance higher education; and protect and expand the financial, educational and social supports that ensure a diverse range of students can access a college education and succeed.
- Living Wages for All AFT Members, which pledges that the AFT will offer tools, resources and support to any local whose members earn less than a living wage and that wants to undertake a campaign to raise wages to a living-wage standard.
- Calling for the Department of Education to Study Adjunct/Contingent Pay and Benefit Inequity, which asks the Education Department to investigate, through a national study, the plight of adjunct/contingent faculty and the severe inequities of pay and overall benefits they endure, and publish the results of that study.
- Solidarity with Ukraine, which reaffirms that the AFT will continue to support the needs of students, educators and teachers unions that remain in Ukraine, where education continues, even under the most difficult conditions.
- Fulfilling the Promise of Education Opportunity and Equity, resolving that the AFT and its affiliates will support practices that create safe and affirming environments for educators and students.
- Reproductive Rights and the Protection of Women, which resolves that the AFT will defend the rights of our members and all women, girls and others who can become pregnant, rejects forced birth, and calls on the Senate and state lawmakers and voters to codify the right to choose abortion, established by Roe v. Wade, into federal and state law.
- Divest from Fossil Fuels and Reinvest in Workers and Communities, resolving that the AFT will take the fight directly to coal, oil and gas corporations, urging the boards of all its members’ pension funds to sell those stocks. The union seeks to reinvest those funds in growing sustainable industries to benefit frontline communities and displaced workers, especially in fossil fuel-dependent states.
- School/Community Violence: A National Crisis, resolving to keep our schools safe without turning them into private prisons or armed fortresses. That means increased funding for school counselors, psychologists, social workers and trained school security officers and for meeting students’ educational needs.
AFT delegates also passed an additional special order of business condemning recent Supreme Court decisions that attack our freedoms and rights.
A full list of resolutions passed by the delegates can be found here.