AFT Affiliates Give Houston Educators ‘What They Need: A Voice’ – Educators ‘Vote Overwhelmingly’ To Make The Houston Federation Of Teachers & The Houston Educational Support Personnel Their ‘Exclusive’ Union Representatives
(HOUSTON, TEXAS) - More than 93% of Teachers and In-School Support Staff in the Houston Independent School District have voted for Union Membership with the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT), and just over 80% of Support Personnel (Bus Drivers and Attendants, Custodians and Food-Service Staff) supported the Houston Educational Support Personnel (HESP). The two are affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
“As our Educators and School Staff ‘navigate this tumultuous moment’ in public education, ‘one thing is clear,’” said AFT President Randi Weingarten when the election results were announced in early December. “They ‘need a voice.’ Collaboration and consultation ‘are critical to help our schools get students and Staff the support they need.’”
In Texas, a non-bargaining state, consultation is the process that includes monthly meetings with school district administrators - a forum that gives Teachers and School Support Personnel a voice in decisions on workplace safety, reopening schools safely, class sizes, compensation, and classroom practices and learning conditions.
“Teachers, Para-Professionals and Support Staff ‘know that when they give input about new district policies, it improves student learning and helps retain amazing Teachers and Staff,’” HFT President Zeph Capo said.
That has been particularly important this year as Houston schools have coped with the COVID-19 Pandemic that has disrupted normal public education across the Nation.
HESP President Wretha Thomas says the election marks a milestone in the fight for respect for Support Personnel: “We’ve fought for twenty-five years for ‘decent’ pay, ‘good’ health insurance and ‘better’ working conditions. Today Blue Collar Workers and HESP Members ‘stand in unity with a strong voice.’ We are proud to announce that all HESP Blue Collar Workers ‘will have a voice’ - ‘no more injustice.’”
Elected consultation allows an Employee Organization to build strong relationships on behalf of students with school officials and board members, the Texas AFT notes, and elected consultation allows Employees to choose one organization to speak for them regarding policy proposals.
In addition, this approach provides accountability and a clear voice, and increases collaboration.
“This vote is a ‘huge victory’ for the Educators and School Staff in Houston, and the entire public school community as well,” Weingarten says. “We are the people on the front lines - in the classrooms and cafeterias, on the buses and throughout our school buildings – ‘and our voices are going to help ensure that students are taken care of socially, emotionally and academically.’”
To Read This Organizing Labor News Story In Its Entirey, Go To: www.aft.org/news/aft-affiliates-give-houston-educators-what-they-need-voice