The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.
Summer is upon us, and parents, children and teachers are winding down from what has been an exhausting and fully operational school year—the first since the devastating pandemic. The long-lasting impact of COVID-19 has affected our students’ and families’ well-being and ignited the politics surrounding public schools. All signs point to the coming school year unfolding with the same sound and fury, and if extremist culture warriors have their way, being even more divisive and stressful.
In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.
When I got a pile of checks in the mail from FedLoan Servicing, I thought it was a scam. FedLoan is my student loan servicer, and even though I knew it was part of a new debt relief program I didn’t think I’d qualify for relief — and this was more than relief. It was actual checks.
But when I opened one of them — so I could report it as fraud — it said it was a refund for a student loan payment. My student loans had been cancelled as part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and FedLoan was admitting it had overcharged me for two years. It was refunding me all those extra payments.
I was floored. FedLoan was canceling almost $40,000 worth of debt. And it was returning about $5,000 in overpayments.
At age 71, I never thought I’d see the day.
I am so grateful. Grateful to the union for urging me to apply for loan relief, and showing me how; grateful to Randi Weingarten for bringing a lawsuit against Betsy DeVos to fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program; grateful to everyone involved.
There’s a lot of information going around right now about vaccines, mask mandates, rising rates, fatigued healthcare providers, and overflowing hospitals – it’s enough to make your head spin! We are reaching out to you to provide information and perspective.
This week, Governor Inslee issued a vaccine mandate for state employees, healthcare workers and contractors with exceptions for medical or religious reasons. PreK-12 and higher education workers were excluded from the mandate, although the majority of public colleges and universities have already established a vaccine mandate for anyone working at or attending their schools. King County and Seattle are also mandating employee vaccinations and it is possible that other cities and counties will follow suit.
For our members' benefit, AFT Washington is hosting this FAQ from the Washington State Health Care Authority regarding SEBB's updates this year. Open enrollment is limited, so be sure you're ready when the time comes.
Q. Will I continue to receive benefits next school year?
A. It depends. Several factors go into eligibility. In general, if you were enrolled in SEBB benefits in August of the previous school year, you will receive uninterrupted coverage from one school year to the next as long as you are returning to the same SEBB organization and are still anticipated to be eligible
Attacks on public education in America by extremists and culture-war peddling politicians have reached new heights (“lows” may be more apt), but they are not new. The difference today is that the attacks are intended not just to undermine public education but to destroy it.
Paraeducators Look for Recognition, Livable Wages as School Returns
August 31, 2018
Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer
Tacoma, WA - A low-paid group of educators known as paraeducators (or "paras") say it's time they received livable wages. Paras assist teachers in the classroom, often working with students with disabilities and in the special education department. Comments from Barbara Randall-Saleh ("suh-LEE"), president, Tacoma Federation of Paraeducators. [more]
Win for Community and Technical College Faculty Heads to Governor's Desk
March 14, 2018 | Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Community and technical college faculty scored a big win during this year's legislative session. Lawmakers passed Engrossed House Bill 1237 to allow faculty at these colleges to negotiate local wage increases through collective bargaining.
They were the only public-education employees prohibited from bargaining locally before this bill. [Read full story and hear audio version here.]
Critics to DeVos During Washington Visit: Policies Only Serve Wealthiest
October 13, 2017 | Washington News Service | Eric Tegethoff, Producer
BELLEVUE, Wash. – Protestors plan to greet Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Bellevue today, where she is scheduled to speak at an annual fundraiser for the Washington Policy Center, a free-market think tank.
The center says it invited DeVos to speak because she's one of the nation's top policy leaders and because of her support for charter schools and the so-called "school choice" movement.
But Carl Livingston, a political science professor at Seattle Central College who will be speaking to protestors, says that policy tips the scales toward the country's wealthiest families. [read/hear full story]