On This Labor Day...It's Time to Take Action

Dear AFSA Family,

Happy Labor Day.

This holiday is usually a time when public school educators celebrate the advances we have made for our profession and the start of a new school year. But this year is like no other. Today, it is hard to be excited and happy with the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 and the crazy politics bombarding us every day.

I have worked in education and labor for close to 50 years and have never seen anything like what we now are experiencing on a daily basis. In other words, I feel your pain, frustration, concerns and needs.

Like you, I not only am apprehensive about the virtual education environment and our ability to educate students to the high levels they need to succeed, but I also am uneasy about the political landscape and the people working against our interests. You have worked hard your entire career to reach your dreams, and there are forces nationwide trying to harm our schools and the protections, pay, benefits and retirement security you have earned.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the American Federation of School Administrators has been on the front line in Congress advocating for you and your students. We have been holding professional development opportunities to educate all of us on the tools needed in our schools to be successful. And we have been working with local unions by offering a detailed report on how to best open schools safely and by providing legal guidance to make sure your rights, compensation, benefits and careers are not harmed by the pandemic—whether you have a collective bargaining agreement or not.

For more than a century, that is what labor unions have done. We have been the collective voice and fought the battles. And, while we see political opponents trying to shut us down, we are getting stronger each day.

Unions have transformed the nation. We should celebrate the progress we have made, but also recommit ourselves to protecting these advances.

In just 57 days, you will have the opportunity to participate in the most historically important election for public education and the nation.

Over the past three years we have seen firsthand the attacks on public education by President Trump and his cronies like Betsy DeVos. We know that in order for this great nation to be successful, public education must lead the way, not only in educating our children to achieve economic success, but also as the melting pot that brings diverse people and cultures together to promote a greater understanding of all people.

In these times of turmoil, the labor movement has risen to the occasion. We’ve given our time, money and assistance to those in need because that’s what community leaders do. But no matter how much effort we give, it pales in comparison to the assistance we could have had—and still need—from our federal government. We’ve waited for months as the House-passed HEROES Act sits untouched in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s lap—and our nation continues to suffer.

That’s why we cannot stress the importance of this upcoming election enough. In 2018, America’s voters elected more than 964 union members to public office. Now, we have the opportunity to elect even more.

This Labor Day, when it’s time to head back inside after a day at the pool or an evening barbecue, let’s reflect on why we get this day off—to recognize the dignity of work and the decades America’s working people and the labor movement have spent fighting to ensure we have the pay and safe workplaces we deserve. Now, let’s make sure we elect people for public office who will keep it that way.