Time to Stand Together
A message from AFT President Randi Weingarten
These undoubtedly are challenging times. As teachers, faculty, school support staff, nurses, public employees, and members or allies of our union, the AFT, we are facing the perfect storm—a time of widespread stress, uncertainty, pressure and fear, where workers and their unions are being scapegoated and vilified for the continuing effects of a recession we did not cause.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has just signed into law legislation stripping workers of their rights and crippling the unions that represent them. Walker and numerous other elected officials have claimed to need such legislation to address budget shortfalls, but these efforts have been unmasked as shrewd power grabs intended to eviscerate workers’ voice and other democratic rights.
As legislation depriving workers of fundamental rights advances in state after state, it is a blow for anyone who values democracy and fairness. But it is also a clarion call to defend these principles.
As we have seen in Wisconsin, and also in Indiana and Ohio, tens of thousands of union members are standing up, standing tall and speaking out in solidarity against all these attacks on their rights and our values. Our allies include students, parents, farmers, firefighters, people of faith and people of good will, who have joined us—some in spirit, some in the halls of state capitols—day in and day out.
We can’t help but be inspired and motivated by this collective action.
Now our challenge is to take this moment and turn it into a movement. And the way to do this is by re-energizing America’s labor movement, which is the only institution fighting for working people at the ballot box and the bargaining table.
The AFT has joined with other labor unions and allies to stand together and participate in the “We Are One” Week of Action starting April 4.
In just the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of traveling to dozens of states—from Wisconsin to Florida, New York to Texas, Ohio to New Mexico—to stand with AFT members and their allies. In every place, I have witnessed how you, as individuals, make a difference every day for the people you serve—children and adults alike. I’m in awe of your tireless dedication. But I have also seen that when we stand together in solidarity as one, we make a difference for everyone in our communities.
I hope you will take a minute to sign this pledge to make a difference together , and to participate in nationwide activities the week of April 4 in support of fairness, justice, democracy and workers’ voice.
I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and commitment. I know these times are difficult, and you can’t do it all and you can’t do it alone. But by standing together as one, we can do everything possible to protect the values that make our country great, including our voice in our own destiny.
Without a doubt, there will be setbacks and there will be victories. But as this past month has proven, every generation has to reaffirm and fight for its beliefs. This is our time to do so, whether we are Gen Yers, Gen Xers or baby boomers. Through our persistence and determination to never give up, we will forge a new path of opportunity for the next generation.