American Federation Of Teachers President Outlines Legal & Strike Strategy To ‘Resist Unsafe’ School Re-Openings
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - As the recession delivers severe budget cuts to education, many Teachers are worried they won’t be able to re-open schools safely, which has left some considering the possibility of a Strike.
Given the physical distance needed, Teachers are considering the “hybrid basis,” of teaching as the best model for re-opening, says American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten about teaching in a combination of on-line and in-person instruction.
“Our Members ‘understand that in-school teaching is really important and with the safeguards we have been pushing since April, (76%) of them were comfortable with re-opening,’” says Weingarten, referring to one survey released earlier this month the AFT where 76% of Teachers supported some form of school re-opening if it could be done in a safe and effective way.
Republican President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, however, dropped a bomb on Teachers as Educators were hoping to negotiate a contract over re-opening safely. They threatened that if schools didn’t re-open this Fall that they would lose their Federal funding. Trump and DeVos’ threats came on the heels of many Teachers fearing that they don’t have enough resources to open schools.
“We are seeing states project (20%) budget cuts on schools when we know that to re-open safely, we need (20%) more,” DeVos said, explaining that no new state aid would be needed to bolster the revenue loss.
“What Trump and DeVos ‘did was open the floodgates, which where our Members before were very focused on having safe conditions because people want to start school because they want to be back to school with our kids,’” says Weingarten. “But Trump and DeVos ‘basically eviscerated any trust that anybody has in the Federal Government.’”
One study by the Kaiser Family Network found that 1 in 4 Teachers, approximately 1.5 million, are considered “at-risk” if they are infected with COVID.
Weingarten says neither Trump nor DeVos has a re-opening plan for schools: “Neither of them are providing resources.”
In lieu of this, the AFT is preparing for the possibility of Strikes and they are advising Members on how they can use their rights under Federal Law to resist re-opening.
The Union is sending out legal guidance obtained exclusively by Payday Report instructing Teachers on how they can use the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act to stay home if they feel it’s unsafe to go to work.
The Union is also instructing its Members to seek reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act to continue teaching on-line from home if they are worried about getting sick from going into work.
And, the AFT is also educating its Members on how to use the Family Medical and Leave Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Collective Bargaining Rights, and other Federal Laws to prevent “at-risk” Teachers from being forced to work in the classroom.
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