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AFT Announces Winners of 2014 Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism

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WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers announced today the winners of its second annual Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism, a competition among AFT state and local affiliates to shine a light on innovative, inspiring and collaborative solutions to tough problems.

Two first-place prizes were awarded: Milwaukee Area Technical Federation, AFT Local 212, won for its solution to lagging graduation and course completion rates, while the other prize will be shared by the United University Professions and the New York State Public Employees Federation for their successful campaign to save Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., from privatization and to promote investment in the facility and actually expand healthcare in Brooklyn. The AFT’s Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism—which was created in partnership with the Albert Shanker Institute and the AFT Innovation Fund—comes with $25,000 for each of the two winners.

“These unions thought outside the box and worked with community partners to come up with innovative, and ultimately successful, solutions to seemingly intractable problems,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Solution-driven unionism is about fighting for ideas that help the people we serve and that help our communities thrive.”

AFT Local 212 and Milwaukee Area Technical College:
Working Together to Enhance District and Community Engagement

Milwaukee Area Technical College’s graduation rate had been under 50 percent, and its course completion rate at about 65 percent, when members of the Milwaukee Area Technical Federation, Local 212, developed a program to enhance student and teacher engagement in the learning process as a means to improve student completion. Among other successful solutions over the past several years, the program created more ways for students to engage with faculty and community. The Center for Engaged and Service Learning, for example, provides many opportunities for students to do service work in the community.

From 2008-2011, MATC had an increase of 378 graduates, to 2,394 students, and is on schedule to graduate 3,900 by the year 2020. The overall course completion rate (defined as the percent of students completing a course with a C or better) rose between 2009 and 2012, with the most significant improvement for courses in the 200-level transfer courses.

MATC President Vicki Martin praised union-management collaboration, noting the expansion and impact of engaged and service learning as a way to enhance student success. “Results show that this work is a shining example of how great things can be achieved when we work together for the common good of students and the community that we serve,” Martin said.

The Campaign to Save Downstate Medical Center

For more than two years, members of the United University Professions and the New York State Public Employees Federation worked to keep the State University of New York’s University Hospital at Downstate Medical Center from being privatized. University Hospital is the state-run teaching hospital connected to Downstate’s medical school and treats nearly 400,000 patients each year, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Privatization threatened the healthcare safety net for an extremely poor and diverse population, along with the jobs of 3,000 people represented by the United University Professions.

UUP and PEF realized that the fight to solve the problem of healthcare in Brooklyn required a strong alliance with patients, medical students, parents, alumni, faith and business groups, and other unions and community allies. As a result, they created the Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders, which organized mass rallies, legislative meetings, community forums and a media campaign.

The unions also devised the “Brooklyn Hospitals Safety Net Plan,” which called for developing decentralized, comprehensive ambulatory care centers staffed by retrained personnel from the inpatient services of Downstate and 14 other Brooklyn hospitals. These outpatient centers would serve about a half-million underserved, underinsured or uninsured Brooklyn residents and are intended to be a national model for training medical residents in comprehensive ambulatory care. Funding could well be secured from a Medicaid waiver, and the unions will be helping to oversee the plan’s implementation.

Downstate Medical Center remains a public, full-service hospital for the residents of central Brooklyn. SUNY Downstate, including the medical school, remains viable. While approximately 65 positions were cut, the campaign was successful in preventing even greater job losses and maintaining access to healthcare for all who need it.

“UUP and PEF were instrumental in creating a community effort to ensure that those who have the least continue to have access to high-quality healthcare in their neighborhood. This was a monumental, but ultimately successful, effort by the unions and their indefatigable community partners,” Weingarten said.

This is the AFT’s second annual Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism. The 2013 winners were the New York Performance Standards Consortium—39 diverse New York state public high schools that received waivers from four of the state’s five standardized exams to emphasize project-based instruction—and AFT Connecticut, for its cost-saving Health Enhancement Program.

AFT’s Statement On New Testing Bill In US House

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2
AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis)

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten statement on the introduction of rep Israels accountability bill:

“The current fixation on high-stakes testing is denying children the engaging, meaningful education they deserve. Testing not only is soaking up too much time and narrowing the curriculum, but is less and less a measure of what kids need to know and be able to do. Standardized tests these days are driving teaching and learning, rather than giving teachers and parents useful data and feedback to help children.

“That is why this bill allowing states to reduce testing is an important step. It also points to the need to build a new accountability system that uses testing as a way to inform instruction, emphasizes meaningful learning, and includes the resources and capacity schools, students and teachers need to continuously improve.

“I would like to thank Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) for his leadership in recognizing the problems of excessive testing, and look forward to working with him to strengthen the bill in the next legislative session.”

Teachers And Postal Workers To Protest At STAPLES In Boston On 8-27-14

Staples Store (Mike Mozart FLikr)

Hundreds of Postal Workers, Supporters to Protest on Steps of City Hall and at Adjacent Staples in Downtown Boston Wednesday

‘Don’t Buy Staples’ Campaign Picks Up Steam
In Home Market 
of Troubled Retailer 

Staples Sign 1 (Mike Mozart Flikr)

BOSTON – Postal Workers and supporters will protest a sweetheart deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Framingham-based retailer Staples at a rally in downtown Boston on Wednesday, August 27.

Who:      Postal workers and supporters

What:    Protest against outsourcing of postal services to Staples

When:    Wednesday, August 27, at 5 p.m.

Where: Steps of City Hall and Staples at One Washington Mall, Downtown Boston (Southside Steps of City Hall Plaza)

With the back-to-school season in full swing, postal workers are urging parents and teachers not to buy school supplies at Staples. School supplies account for approximately 30 percent of Staples’ revenue.

Since January, APWU members and supporters have staged hundreds of rallies in front of Staples stores around the country to protest a no-bid deal with the U.S. Postal Service that established postal counters in office-supply stores.  Last week, protesters rallied in downtown Boston and joined members of the Lynn Teachers Union for a rally at a Staples store in Saugus, Massachusetts.

An internal USPS document makes clear that the goal of the deal is to replace the jobs held by postal employees with low-paying jobs at Staples.

“But this isn’t just about postal jobs,” said John Dirzius, Northeast Region Coordinator for the APWU. “It is about protecting the public Postal Service. Many people are outraged that a cherished public asset is being used to prop up a struggling private company.” The company recently announced another quarter of declining sales, and confirmed plans to close 140 stores in 2014.

“Staples makes business decisions based on the bottom line, not service to the people of the country,” he said.

“A failing private company doesn’t belong in the postal business,” said Bob Dempsey, Vice President of the APWU’s Boston Metro Local. “Postal consumers want reliable service from highly-trained workers who have taken an oath to protect their letters and packages. Staples can’t offer that.”

“The Boston Teachers Union and its 11,000 members strongly support the postal workers who provide an excellent service to the American public,” said BTU President Richard Stutman. “Contracting that service out to a third party will diminish that service and weaken a great American institution. We stand behind our postal workers 100 percent and will urge our members to boycott Staples.”

In the middle of the crucial back-to-school season, Seeking Alpha, a leading investment website, reports that Staples is so “desperate” to win sales that it is offering a 110 percent price-match guarantee on school supplies. “The retailer is admitting that the only way that it can get customers in the door is to practically give some of its products away,” the website reported.

“If Staples wants to give away products, that’s their business,” said Dirzius. “But when the U.S. Postal Service tries to give away a public resource, that’s everybody’s business.”

Staples 8-27-14 FlyerStaples 8-27-14 BACKGROUNDLeft is a complementary flyer to use to invite your friends.

Right is a flyer with background information about the USPS and STAPLES.

Teachers And Postal Workers To Protest STAPLES In BOSTON On 8-20-14

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‘Stop Staples’ Boycott Comes to the Hub as Troubled Retailer Releases 2nd Quarter Results. 

Postal Workers to Pass Out Rulers Stamped ‘Don’t Buy School Supplies at Staples’ in Boston at 10 a.mTeachers to Join Protest at Saugus Staples at 5:30 p.m.

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BOSTON – The ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign, organized by the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), will come to the Boston area – home of the troubled retailer – with two events on Wednesday, August 20, the same day the company will release its second quarter results.

AM Event, Boston

Who: APWU members and supporters

What: Protest against outsourcing of U.S. Postal Service work to Staples
Postal Workers and supporters to pass out ‘Don’t Buy School Supplies at Staples’ rulers

When: Wednesday, August 20 at 10 a.m.

Where: Staples at One Washington Mall, Downtown Boston
(Adjacent to City Hall Plaza, one block from Faneuil Hall)

PM Event, Saugus, MA

Who: Members of Lynn Teachers Union, APWU members and supporters

What: Protest against outsourcing of U.S. Postal Service work to Staples

When: Wednesday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Staples store at 444 Broadway, Saugus, MA

In addition to the events listed above, a large rally featuring postal workers and supporters is planned for Wednesday, August 27, on the steps of City Hall plaza. The location is just one block away from the Staples Washington Mall store.

Since January, APWU members and supporters have staged hundreds of protests around the country in front of the office-supply outlets over the retailer’s no-bid deal with the U.S. Postal Service that established knock-off post offices in Staples stores.

“Outsourcing postal work to Staples is one of the most ill-conceived ideas the Postal Service has come up with – and that’s saying a lot,” said John Dirzius, Northeast Region Coordinator for the APWU. “Consumers don’t want to turn over their mail to low-paid, barely-trained workers in an unsecured setting. And postal workers don’t want to turn over our jobs to a private company that’s closing stores left and right.”

Staples, facing declining sales and revenue, has announced plans to close 225 stores by the end of 2015. “The Post Office is a public asset, and we’re here to provide a public service – not a backdoor bailout to a struggling private company,” said Bob Dempsey, Vice President of the APWU’s Boston Metro Local. “If it is allowed to continue, this program will lead to the closing of neighborhood post offices.”

USPS and Staples are clearly feeling pressure from the Stop Staples campaign. In July, they announced that they were changing the name of their partnership. However, the USPS has acknowledged that the newly-renamed program is essentially the same as the old one.

Also in July, both national teacher unions – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – passed resolutions in support of the Stop Staples campaign, and 2,000 teachers and other AFT supporters protested at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. School supplies are a key market for Staples, accounting for up to one-third of the company’s sales, according to some estimates.

For more information about the campaign to stand up for quality service and good-paying jobs, visit Stop Staples.com.

AFT Hails Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Law

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WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s signing of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

“Career and technical education programs provide incredibly important pathways to success. The bipartisan bill that President Obama signed today extends the ladder of opportunity to middle-class Americans by providing the guidance, skills and training needed to compete for good 21st-century jobs. The law will help young people, the disabled, the long-term unemployed and those barely getting by on hourly wages to become economically self-sufficient.

“The workforce law provides a blueprint for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, which has been a lifeline for job training opportunities and focuses on career and technical education programs and collaborative partnerships among employers, communities, schools and labor. We hope that as Congress works on the Perkins reauthorization, it provides much-needed funding for guidance counselors, who can help students explore career options as they contemplate their futures.

“I have witnessed how great career and technical education high schools change lives, such as New York City’s Aviation High School; New York City’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-Tech, which has IBM and the City College of New York as core partners; and the Toledo (Ohio) Technology Academy, whose partners include the United Auto Workers union. The Albert Shanker Institute and the AFT have been stalwart advocates of career and technical education programs, and we will continue our efforts to help high-quality CTE programs flourish to create innovative pathways to a high school diploma and college and career readiness.”

Stop The Attack On Public Education — AFT Welcomes “Democrats For Public Education”

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Written by Larry Graykin

As a longtime liberal and a union member, I have been dismayed by the Democrats extended, gradual slide toward the political right. Once a little left of center, the typical Democrat nowadays is akin to a moderate Republican of years past. There is no question Eisenhower would be judged “too liberal” for any Republican primary nowadays. My fear is that he’d be deemed too liberal for the Dems, as well.

The worst of the Dems, to my way of thinking, are the Neo-Liberals, simply because they are fleece-wearing wolves. According to Elizabeth Martinez, the main points of neo-liberalism include:

  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services.
  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role.
  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.
  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

In other words, Neo-Libs are Libertarians in Democrats’ clothing. And yes, as you might wonder, they DO have ties to ALEC, as demonstrated by Mercedes Schneider in her book, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education. 

I’m a teacher, and so I’ve been watching the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)—the Neo-Lib’s PAC that attends to education—for some time now.  From DFER’s “Statement of Principles”: “We believe that reforming broken public school systems cannot be accomplished by tinkering at the margins, but rather through bold and revolutionary leadership.  This requires opening up the traditional top-down monopoly of most school systems and empowering all parents to access great schools for their children.”  These are the lovers and promoters of Michelle Rhee, of charter schools, of vouchers, of top-down educational reforms (e.g., high-stakes testing, Common Core national standards, the use of VAM in rating teacher quality, etc.)  They support policies “that stimulate the creation of new accountable public schools and which simultaneously close down failing schools.”   These, in short, are enemies of the NEA and the AFT.

And into this landscape trots Donna Brazile.

Donna Brazile, says Wikipedia, is “an American author, academic, and political analyst who is Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, acting as campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000.” And she is also one of the founding members of “Democrats for Public Education,” an organization that she first announced at AFT’s convention. “I am ashamed of some of Democrats in my own party. We’re not going to be silent while you are being attacked.”

It’s a wonderful speech. Watch it here:

Democrats for Public Education is brand new. Their website is not yet up. Their Facebook page  has little more than a “Stay tuned…” message. But we already know what they stand for. Brazile, along with two co-chairs, former governors Ted Strickland (Ohio) and Jennifer Granholm (Michigan), has indicated that “the group intends to champion additional funds to make quality public education available to everyone, and reject what Brazile called ‘market-driven’ reforms that undermine the learning environment. ‘We have done a poor job educating people about education. Only when we have clarified that, can we talk about how best to achieve it.’”

So…we have a new environment in which Democrats must live.  Each candidate must answer a question that once could be avoided: Will you continue to pay lip-service to unions while aligning yourself with DFER? Or will you truly stand on the side of teachers, students, and unions, and affiliate yourself with Democrats for Public Education?

As Pete Seeger asked in song, “Which side are you on?”

Randi Weingarten Re-elected AFT President

AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)
AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

AFT President Weingarten (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

Lorretta Johnson re-elected Secretary-Treasurer; Mary Cathryn Ricker chosen to succeed Executive Vice President Francine Lawrence 

LOS ANGELES—Delegates at the American Federation of Teachers national convention voted overwhelmingly to re-elect AFT President Randi Weingarten to a third term. The vote affirms the AFT’s commitment to solution-driven, community-engaged and member-empowered unionism that focuses on uniting union members, the people they serve and the communities in which they live. Also re-elected to lead the 1.6 million-member union was AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, who has held that position since 2011.

Joining Weingarten and Johnson as the AFT’s new executive vice president is the president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, Mary Cathryn Ricker. Ricker will replace Francine Lawrence, who plans to retire this year.

Ricker has led AFT Local 28 since 2005 and has been a member of the AFT K-12 Teachers program and policy council since 2006. She has previously represented the AFT internationally in Finland and the Middle East; and she has represented the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers on mayoral Sister City delegations to Germany and Mexico. Ricker is a National Board Certified middle school English teacher who has taught in classrooms all across the country and internationally.

The union also elected 43 vice presidents representing each of the AFT’s divisions: K-12 teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; public employees; and healthcare workers.

“Over the coming two years, we will work to achieve all these dreams—of a more just society; an economy that works for all Americans; healthcare that puts patients ahead of profits; and public education from early childhood through 16 and more that nurtures the potential of every student in every way,” said Weingarten. “But dreaming does not mean dozing. We are leaving this convention charged up. Fired up.”

“Let us not waver in our commitment to make sure that every child, no matter their ZIP code, gets an amazing public education,” said Johnson. “Let us not falter in our fight to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.”

“I am energized by this convention and the mandate you’ve given our union and us leaders to work tirelessly to reclaim the promise of America and restore the gains that have been rolled back—by being solution-driven, community-engaged, member-involved and, yes, I guess this Minnesotan can be a little badass too,” said Ricker.

The AFT has been holding its biennial convention, which began on July 11 and ends today, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Earlier in the convention, the more than 3,500 delegates passed a series of resolutions and special orders of business to increase educational and economic opportunity, including:

Creating a Healthcare System That Puts Patient Care Above Profits
Safe and Effective Nurse Staffing Saves Lives, Prevents Errors
Ending the Exploitation of and the Reliance on a Contingent Academic Labor System in Higher Education
Support U.S. Postal Workers: Boycott Staples
Our Commitment to Fighting Back and Fighting Forward
The Role of Standards in Public Education
Real Accountability for Equity and Excellence in Public Education

CLICK HERE to say Congrats to President Weingarten on Twitter.

AFT Calls For Education Sec. Duncan To Resign, After He Gets His Due Process

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AFT Members Commit to Fighting Back Against Vergara, Harris Decisions
Special Order of Business Passes at AFT Convention

LOS ANGELES—Today, delegates of the American Federation of Teachers’ biennial convention in Los Angeles unanimously passed a special order of business—recommended by the executive council—to fight back against attacks on unions and teachers like Vergara v. California and Harris v. Quinn, and to fight forward to reclaim the promise of America.

The special order characterizes these lawsuits as “contributing to an escalating and engineered imbalance in our democracy.”

Amended from the floor, the order—originally drafted by the executive council—was revised to include strong language on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who publicly supported the Vergara decision. It derided his promotion of “misguided and ineffective policies on deprofessionalization, privatization and test obsession.”

The order called upon the president of the United States to “implement a secretary improvement plan which will be based upon standing up for public education, supporting teachers and all school workers, inspiring parents and the public to join us in creating the public schools we want and deserve, and leading with us in reclaiming the promise of public education.”

It asked the president to take the following actions:

  • Enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Each and Every Child report issued by the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Equity Commission;
  • Work with us to change the NCLB/RTTT “test and punish” accountability system to a “support and improve” model; and
  • Promote rather than question the teachers and school support staff of America.

It goes on to say that if “Secretary Duncan does not improve, and given that he has been treated fairly and his due process rights have been upheld, the secretary of education must resign.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten made a statement following the passage of the special order:

“This special order is basically saying, “Enough is enough.” Teachers are evaluated and their future livelihoods are linked to that. And when they fall short, they should have a chance to improve. And that’s what this special order represents. Make no mistake about it: There’s a lot of hurt that has been expressed from the floor—the feeling that the secretary of education doesn’t walk in the shoes of public educators or provide the support and resources necessary to ensure all children have a high-quality public education.”

AFT Members Pass Resolution Advocating for New Teacher Accountability System

Image by AFT Union

Resolution Calls for Move from Test-and-Punish System to Support-and-Improve Model

Image by AFT Union

Image by AFT Union

LOS ANGELES—To restore joy to teaching and learning and create strong community public schools that are safe, collaborative and welcoming places, AFT members today passed a resolution taking a bold stand against the obsession with testing and calling for an end to the failed test-and-punish accountability system to one focused on support and improvement. AFT President Randi Weingarten called it the most important resolution passed at the AFT convention.

The resolution, “Real Accountability for Equity and Excellence in Public Education,” which passed virtually unanimously, states that “the very purpose of public education and the joy of both teaching and learning are now at risk because policymakers perversely attempt to capture—and evaluate—everything about teaching and learning with testing.”

“Our obsession with testing, in the guise of accountability, is hijacking public schooling,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Testing should be about giving students a sense of where they stand and teachers and parents the information they need to tailor instruction and support kids. Instead, it’s being used to reduce children to test scores and teachers to algorithms.”

The resolution specifically calls out:

  • The over-reliance on flawed value-added measures (VAM) used to punish and sanction teachers;
  • The use of test results to fire teachers, close schools and hand schools over to privatizers;
  • The failure of test-based accountability to improve student performance or ensure equitable distribution of resources;
  • How the current system fails to recognize that two-thirds of the achievement gap is attributable to nonschool factors and is the opposite approach taken by education systems that outcompete us globally;
  • The increased segregation through public school disinvestment and charter school and privatization expansion;
  • How inappropriate education policies, austerity budgets, deprofessionalization and privatization have made education about competition instead of about the needs of all children; and
  • The need to respect teachers’ professionalism and engage teachers in improvin equity and excellence in our schools.

“Accountability shouldn’t come down to test-and-punish, and classroom teachers shouldn’t be the only ones held accountable,” Weingarten said. “That’s why we are making the call for a thoughtful accountability system that makes students, not data, the priority, focuses on meaningful student learning and ensures adequate resources. It’s time to stop the failed policy of making every child in every grade take standardized tests every year and evaluating teachers on standardized test scores of students they haven’t even taught.”

Instead of the current failed policies, the resolution calls for:

  • Engaging all stakeholders in planning and implementing accountability systems that are transparent and readily understandable by teachers, families and the broader public;
  • Ensuring that students are taught a well-rounded curriculum, including the arts, the sciences, social studies, civics, world languages, health and physical education, and social, emotional and character development;
  • Assessments that are aligned to higher-order thinking and performance skills;
  • Relying on sampling instead of testing every student at every grade level every year, but retaining disaggregated reporting by race, ethnicity, poverty level, English language status and disability;
  • Identifying schools needing improvement through measures beyond test scores;
  • Holding policymakers and administrators accountable for allocating the necessary resources to support schools;
  • Holding all stakeholders, not just teachers, responsible for meeting students’ needs and achieving both equity and excellence for all students;
  • Ending austerity budgets; and
  • Investments in wraparound services to address the social, emotional and health needs of students.

“Taken together, the education resolutions passed at the AFT’s convention offer a blueprint to help fulfill public education’s essential purpose as an anchor of democracy, a propeller of the economy and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams,” said Weingarten. “They help build the foundation for a public education system focused on great teaching, a rich and vibrant curriculum focused on learning over testing, safe and welcoming neighborhood public schools, valuing and respecting the voice of educators, and ensuring children have the resources and services they need to enable their success in the classroom and in life.”

Teachers, Postal Workers, and Public Employees Cry Out, “The Mail Is Not For Sale”

Members from AFT MN  (image by @pmueller)
Via twitter @DeniseSpecht

Via twitter @DeniseSpecht

Last night at their bi-annual convention, the American Federation of Teachers adopted a resolution to support of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) in a national boycott Staples Inc. for their attempt to steal jobs from dedicated postal employee’s and continue the race to the bottom.

It resolves “that members of the AFT, along with friends, colleagues and family members, are urged to no longer shop at Staples stores until further notice.”

Read the resolution here.

Staples and the USPS are set to begin pilot program in 82 retail stores that would have “postal counters” that would provide most of the safe services as a local post office.  These postal counters would be staffed by Staples low-wage, non-union workers, and not by the dedicated clerks of the APWU, who take care of you at you local post office.

These postal counters could mean the end of our local post offices.

Similar resolutions were passed by the California Teachers Union, AFT Michigan, AFT Massachusetts and AFT New Hampshire asking members to shop somewhere else when it came time to buy their “back to school” supplies.

“Postal workers are the most amazing public servants,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Who does Staples really want and need to come into its stores every single day? Teachers. The best way we can help is if we say to Staples: ‘You do this to the postal workers, and we aren’t buying supplies in your stores.’”

AFT President Randi Weingarten (Image by @AFTunion)

AFT President Randi Weingarten (Image by @AFTunion)

School supplies are a key market for Staples, accounting for up to one-third of the company’s sales, according to some estimates. The company, faced with declining sales and revenue, has announced plans to close 225 stores by 2015.

After adopting the resolution, AFT members joined their APWU brothers and sisters in a massive rally outside Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. AFT President Weingarten and thousands of AFT convention delegates joined members of the American Postal Workers Union and other community members in a rally telling the United States Postal Service and the Staples corporation that the “Mail Is Not for Sale.”

This action is a continuing part of the AFT’s effort to reclaim the promise of an America where consumers are safe, workers are valued and well trained, and middle-class jobs are protected.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein addressed the importance of America’s middle class standing together against the effort to privatize and demonize U.S. postal workers. He said, “We too are in the public sector, we too are meeting the needs of people. We’re facing some of the same problems you are—I call it divert, defund, demoralize, demonize and dismantle.”

APWU President Mark Dimondstein (image by @AFTunion)

APWU President Mark Dimondstein (image by @AFTunion)

I applaud Randi Weingarten and all of the AFT members who adopted this resolution and will show their support for postal workers by boycotting Staples!

Below are pictures taken at the AFT/APWU rally last night.  All images are from twitter.

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