«Reclaiming Our Future» – 87th National Convention of the American Federation of Teachers
On July 13-17, 2022, the 87th National Convention of the American Federation of Teachers, was held in Boston, USA. The theme of the event was «Reclaim Our Future: Fighting for the Promise of a Better America».
The biennial convention is a significant event for the American Federation of Teachers, which has 1.7 million members. More than 3,000 delegates from education unions and other institutions in the United States and Europe attended this year's convention.
AFT President Randi Weingarten stated in her welcoming speech: «Our convention theme was ‘reclaiming our future.’ It was about lifting up our members for their incredible work, making sure they felt seen and heard, and ensuring they left Boston with the tools to put their values into action and help make their kids’, patients’ and communities’ lives better every single day.
«Our delegates and committees put in the work on the issues keeping families up at night, from climate change, to accessible healthcare, to the crushing crisis of student debt, to the terrifying safety issues plaguing too many workplaces. This year was an important reminder of the AFT’s foundations in democracy and our commitment to union work: to stand up and be counted, to live our convictions, and to engage and not withdraw.»
U.S. President Joe Biden opened the event with his online speech. He highlighted that as soon as he became President, the first thing that was needed to do is to invest in teachers. «You are the kite strings that lift our national ambitions aloft. We owe you. I have your back, I promise you», – President Joe Biden promised.
During four days, convention delegates discussed and passed resolutions on a range of issues, from examining the prospects for public education in the country to protecting living wages, combating the effects of climate change, and overcoming the student debt crisis.
High-profile guests and speakers addressed the delegates on various days. First lady Dr. Jill Biden in her inspiring speech reminded educators that they are the ones who can make the world better. «We change the world, so let’s get to work», – the first lady said.
President of the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, Georgiy Trukhanov addressed to the participants of the National AFT Convention in his video presentation. He informed about the situation in education sphere during war time, living and working conditions of teachers in Ukraine under the Russian terror. He stressed that the war in our country is a struggle for the right of Ukrainians to be free and independent on their own land, the war for values, freedom and democracy, the right of our people to choose to live and develop in a European society.
The strong support of Ukraine by the states of the world and the assistance of the international community gives us hope and confidence in our victory. And we are sincerely glad that we have such a reliable friend and partner – the American Federation of Teachers – in our struggle against the world aggressor», – Georgiy Trukhanov said.
Among the speakers at the congress were U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Gabriela Ramos from UNESCO, Olha Chabaniuk, Vice President of the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, and a number of other distinguished guests.
Addressing to the participants at the event, Olga Chabaniuk spoke about the consequences of the full-scale war in Ukraine, which has been going on for five months, and about the terror and destruction that the aggressor-Russia is inflicting on our country. She also spoke about the destruction of school and university buildings and the disfigured lives of millions of citizens.
«Our union in this difficult time continues to provide humanitarian, financial assistance and psychological support to its members», – said the Trade Union Vice President, «...our vision is clear – we want to live in a world where teachers and students see their future in Ukraine. And we want to live in a free and democratic country where sovereignty, territorial integrity and human rights, values and international law are respected, and where everyone can choose their own way».
Delegates of the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution of solidarity with Ukraine in which they condemn Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
AFT expressed solidarity with the people, workers and labor unions of Ukraine. The organization highlighted the Ukrainian unions of teachers, healthcare professionals, emergency workers and public employees who continue their heroic work even while under fire and assured of their support of the needs of students, educators and teachers unions who remain in Ukraine, where education continues, even under the most difficult conditions.
The American Federation of Teachers joins with those in the international community calling for an immediate end to hostilities in Ukraine; the retreat of Russian forces; restoration of Ukraine’s sovereign borders; and negotiations for a peace process that respects democracy, human rights and international law.
At the end of the 87th National Convention, union delegates voted overwhelmingly to re-elect President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram, and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus.