By Rochelle Robinson-Dukes, City Colleges Vice President
The 2022 American Federation of Teachers 2022 convention was held in Boston, MA from 14 July -17 July.
The opening address of AFT President Randi Weingarten was a call to arms for teachers, professionals, para-professionals, nurses, and all union members to fight and work together to improve our members working conditions, particularly in the sudden rise in mass school shootings, high cost of living, student loan debt, and political discord. President Weingarten highlighted a teacher shortage in America. Weingarten posited that “teachers and school staff have been struggling for years with a lack of professional respect, inadequate support and resources, subpar compensation, untenable student loan debt, endless paperwork, and a culture of blame that weaponizes standardized tests to attack public schools and public school teachers.”
Furthermore, The AFT and President Weingarten addressed the concerns of children and communities with the “What Kids and Communities Need Campaign,” In this program, Randi hand-delivered supplies to underserved communities throughout the country, particularly in underserved and rural communities.
However, the convention’s primary purpose was to pass resolutions that would positively affect AFT members and their communities. Some of the many resolutions that were passed included those addressing homelessness, foreclosures, and evictions, staffing shortages in healthcare workforce, the needs off AAPI Union Members, AFT Healthcare professionals mental health, climate and green investments, DEI and racial justice investments, and the establishment of health and safety committees.
There were other notable speakers, such as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, whose family union background make her an obvious option for upcoming Massachusetts’ governor race.
However, the most rousing speech came from a well-known Chicago pastor, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, who presides over Trinity United Church of Christ. The AFT showed his movie telling of his grandfather’s fight to vote. Reverend Otis praised the fortitude of teachers and the union and emphasized the contributions of every member in the educational field.
On the last day of the conference, Local 1600’s special stars were recognized. At the Women’s Breakfast Local 1600’s own retiree members, Gail Wiot (celebrating 30 years of union service) and Marie Caronti (celebrating 40 years of union service), were recognized.
During these times of high prices for necessities, gun violence, global warming, and a possible recession, more than ever Americans (union members and leaders) need to come together. Our democracy and our children’s future are at stake. Our vote is our power. Let’s get out the vote during the midterm elections and all elections. Many people have lost their lives trying to exercise their right to vote.