Dear Commons Community,
Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, sent out the email below to her membership regarding the Philadelphia’s School Commission’s voiding of the teachers’ contract.
Yesterday, with only 28 days left until the 2014 elections, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) showed us how low our opponents will stoop to win this election. In a shameful move, the SRC held an early morning meeting—announced quietly just the day before—and voted to void our contract and impose work rules on thousands of teachers who have already made huge sacrifices to keep resources in schools. It’s a last-ditch effort to blame teachers for the crisis created by Gov. Corbett, and a stark reminder of what’s at stake on Nov. 4. The AFT and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have worked for years to restore Philadelphia schools. But as long as Gov. Corbett controls the budget, Philadelphia’s schools will be a political football. Our opponents—who are investing hundreds of millions in these elections—want public policy that lets them squeeze a profit out of kindergarten classrooms and hospital operating rooms, student loans and public pensions, emergency dispatch and school cafeterias. This year, we’re making unprecedented efforts to get out the vote for candidates who will treat our members and our communities with respect.
Across the country we’re fighting to elect leaders who share our values and will stand with us in office. But as we build power, our opponents grow more desperate—as this shameful move in Philadelphia shows. They’ll come after us as hard as they can, even stooping to personal attacks, like the ones leveled at me in recent weeks, in their efforts to smear our work and our union. But if we tell our stories, we win. Everywhere I travel, I hear powerful stories from our members: A teacher in Philadelphia who lies awake at night planning how to help a struggling student. Nurses in Ohio organizing to stop their hospital from making an extra buck by cutting shifts and reducing patient care. Volcanologists in Alaska working day and night to monitor potential eruptions near cities and towns. And so many more.
Whether it’s the Koch brothers or Wall Street hedge fund managers, our opponents are spending hundreds of millions to buy these elections. We know we can’t compete dollar for dollar, but, by pooling our resources and using them strategically, we can turn out voters who share our values. I hope you’ll chip in to help us mobilize our allies at the ballot box so we can reclaim the promise of America.
In unity, Randi Weingarten AFT President
Jerry Jordan Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President