Defending Our Values

With President-elect Trump about to take office and Senate confirmation hearings on his Cabinet nominees beginning, the values our union stands for are under attack as never before.

The AFT remains undaunted in our commitment to protecting and expanding the American pathway to success and security, including a fair and vibrant economy that offers good jobs and a ladder of opportunity to all; a public education system that nurtures children in a safe learning environment and is adequately supported, not defunded or privatized; a system of public higher education that is affordable and inclusive and promotes free inquiry, not ideological tests; democratic values rooted in pluralism and equality, with a free press, an independent judiciary and a thriving labor movement; a healthcare system that provides all Americans with access to affordable, high-quality care; and dignity and respect for every person, with freedom from discrimination, bigotry and bullying.

As we fight back against the new Trump administration and fight forward for what’s essential to our members and those we serve, our operating principle will be to connect with our members and allies and engage them in meeting the many challenges presented by this transition. By fighting for the values that define us, and our mission, we will rebuild the trust of others in every community who share our values and can become valuable allies in the fight ahead.

Now is the time to take action. Our battle over the band of billionaires and ideologues Trump has selected to run our national government begins with the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education. But it will continue as the Senate prepares to vote on her and several other nominees.

 

THE BATTLE OVER DEVOS

DeVos personifies the threat to public education from those who would defund and privatize our schools. She has no experience in public education at any level—not as a teacher, an administrator or a school board member. Neither she nor any of her children have ever attended a public school. DeVos’ only involvement with our public schools has been as a lobbyist and political donor backing policies that undermine public education, such as vouchers and for-profit charter schools that divert public tax dollars to private corporations without any real accountability.

Rather than choose someone for secretary of education who will strengthen and improve public schools, which is what Americans expect from that office, Trump selected a billionaire whose public life has been devoted to destroying public education.

We must stand together to support our children, our schools and our communities. We must make sure they know this is a fight for public education and great neighborhood public schools.

 

  1. Meet with your senators, and urge them to oppose the DeVos nomination. Also, educate your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    • This AFT toolkit includes materials on scheduling and conducting meetings with elected officials
  2. Educate other AFT members and get them to commit to this fight for great neighborhood public schools.
  3. Reach out to your community. Meet with community groups, local businesses, religious leaders, parents and others who have a stake in our public schools. We must show our partners and allies that supporting public education is more than just a union fight. Actions include sending postcards to senators, making calls and sending emails.
  4. Bring your local elected officials into the discussion. They have direct investments in local public schools and a keen interest in seeing that they succeed and remain under the control of locally elected officials.

    Ask your school board, city council and local labor council to adopt the sample resolutions below.

 

ALLIANCE TO RECLAIM OUR SCHOOLS’ JAN. 19 DAY OF ACTION

In hundreds of communities across the nation, educators, parents, students and others who support our public schools will stand together to send a message to Trump on the day before he takes office. They will call on the Senate to reject DeVos as secretary of education; demand that our schools and campuses provide sanctuary from the threat of deportation, racism and bullying; and ask policymakers at all levels to invest in public education.

What sort of actions? Take an action that is right for your school, your community or your city, and that reflects our commitment to protect our students, schools and communities. You know your local situation best. You know how to bring together staff, students, parents and other community members to draw attention to the need to protect our students and schools. AFT has developed the resources here to help with turn out and engagement. Feel free to change them and adapt them to what is right for YOUR local union or community organization. If you’d like to see additional materials developed, please email jtzuanos@aft.org.

AROS Day of Action materials and resources:

Materials for AFT Nurses & Health Professional locals:

AFT Higher Education Day of Action: Creating a Sanctuary Campus

Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric has already taken a toll: Swastikas, nooses, and racist graffiti are appearing on college campuses daily. Professors are being placed on watch lists. Undocumented students face renewed threats of deportation. Muslim students and faculty are fearful that Trump will create a national registry based on religious affiliation and victims of sexual assault and hate crimes are fearful that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which works to prevent sexual violence on campus, will be dismantled.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, thousands of us will urge college and university administrators to create public places of resistance and protection for all members of our campus communities, including those most vulnerable to Trump’s politics of hate.  Our students, our colleagues, and our community need to see that we will stand with them. We believe in a better and more just America, and we will demonstrate our convictions with bold action.

  • Sample action ideas to inspire: Deliver a letter to your campus administration demanding sanctuary status, hold a candlelight vigil, conduct a rally, perform street theater. These ideas will get you up and running.
  • Sample banner and sign ideas: From the simple #SanctuaryCampus to “Your voice matters, you matter,” this list covers social media, rallies and more. Tailor these ideas to your event, or create your own.
  • Contact us at highered@aft.org for more resources, including sample media advisories, letters demanding sanctuary, email templates to encourage participation, sample rally scripts and help with meeting agendas.

 

THIS IS A LONG TERM FIGHT

Following the DeVos hearing, there will be similar proceedings on Trump’s nominees to lead the Labor and the Health and Human Services departments. As it did regarding DeVos, the AFT executive council passed formal resolutions opposing those nominations.

Separate from the fight over Cabinet nominees, the Republican-controlled Congress is already laying the groundwork for repealing the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans are determined to turn everything in our healthcare system into a corporate profit center. If they succeed in this repeal effort, they not only will make healthcare inaccessible to millions of Americans, they also will hurt Medicare and Medicaid. They seem determined to “Make America Sick Again.” We will be working with allies in Congress and elsewhere to try to keep that from happening.

 

HEALTHCARE DAY OF ACTION

On Jan. 15, working with congressional leaders, the AFT will participate in rallies across the country aimed at stopping the push to “Make America Sick Again.”

 

OTHER EVENTS THAT ARE PART OF OUR FIGHT

  • Jan. 14—The National Action Network March on Washington 2017
  • Jan. 14—A march in Washington, D.C., to support immigrant and refugee rights.
  • Jan. 14-21—A week of actions supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) protections.
  • Jan. 15—Working with congressional leaders, the AFT will participate in rallies across the country aimed at stopping the push to “Make America Sick Again.” Please stay tuned for more information.
  • Jan. 16—Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With members of Congress back in their districts, the holiday weekend could be a good time for meetings with your federal officials.
  • Jan. 17—Senate confirmation hearing on Betsy DeVos for secretary of education.
  • Jan. 18—Senate confirmation hearing on Tom Price for secretary of health and human services.
  • Jan. 19—The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools’ Day of Action in support of public education. AFT affiliates in hundreds of cities and communities across the nation will participate in events coordinated with AROS to demonstrate their commitment to public education, to show that public schools must be a viable educational choice for all American families, to back sanctuary status for schools and campuses, and to call on the Senate to reject the DeVos nomination.
  • Jan. 20—Inauguration Day
  • Jan. 21—Women’s March on Washington. The AFT has endorsed the march and is assisting the organizers in their nationwide call to stand together for the protection of women’s rights and safety, and to declare the truth that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

What does it mean to be #AFTAllin?

  • #AFTAllin means picking ourselves up, extending a hand to our neighbors and our colleagues, and recommitting ourselves to the task of fighting for an America where everyone has a fair chance. 
  • #AFTAllin is about joining together so that no one is demonized, threatened, or excluded. 
  • #AFTAllin is how we lift each other up rather than let anyone push any of us down. 
  • #AFTAllin means that we bring a renewed passion and a sense of urgency to the fight to strengthen the institutions that support democracy - like our schools, our public services and our unions - and we double-down on our efforts to engage and mobilize our members, and speak-out for the communities we serve.