A Letter from Texas AFT President Zeph Capo

Our Work Is Powerful. We educate. We advocate. We vote.

To our Texas AFT members,

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the mistreatment and disregard for teachers and school employees. This crisis too has elevated the need for unions now more than ever. It’s no coincidence that districts with our strongest local union presence are where we see the safest, most thoughtful reopening plans. ​

Where we have strong local unions or an active, vocal membership, we have seen the most positive progress toward safe school reopenings:

  • Letters, car caravans, curbside protests​, speeches at school board meetings​ all made a difference in Houston, Dallas, Cedar Hill, El Paso, Socorro, Austin, Judson, South Texas and San Antonio.
  • Online “Know Your Rights” trainings for educators and parents have bridged communication gaps and created allies.
  • Members of our local unions have participated in formal district reopening committees and convened community-wide partners to develop guidelines of our own.

The larger our voice, the more powerful we become.

Meanwhile, where school districts do not have the best interest of educators and students at heart, we have taken action and continue to fight.

Cy-Fair ISD failed to consult with Cy-Fair AFT members and called for in-person professional development for employees. We sought and won an injunction against the district. While the injunction was later stopped by a politically motivated Texas Supreme Court, it resulted in a new focus on safety across campuses.

San Antonio Alliance won a fight to reinstate an activist retaliated against for speaking out for safer schools. Texas AFT has a long history of standing up for members who were retaliated against for asserting their rights, including with a standing case at U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the state level, we have created our own COVID-19 tracking website with our partners at United for Respect. Why? Because we trust educators and school employees above all others to report the truth about their working conditions and the health of their students and colleagues.

They depend on your silence for their success.

— Zeph Capo

Union organizing is such an important right we take for granted. It plays a critical role in local and state elections and the way public policy is shaped. Consider that your simple right to have membership dues deducted from your paycheck has been threatened in several of the past legislative sessions.

The reason for those threats is simple: The people in charge — the same people who want to cut education funds and privatize our neighborhood schools and your pension — are afraid you will become strong enough to take their power away. They depend on your silence for their success.

If you’re not yet a member of our union, I urge you to join today and to encourage your colleagues to join too. Belonging to our union ensures you have a local, state and national union family that has your back — and that you have theirs — no matter what comes our way in the upcoming school year. 

We have been able to accomplish so much with so little. Imagine what we could accomplish if everyone did their part. Become a member, stay engaged in the fight and, above all else, vote in the upcoming election. We must be the change — and make the change — we want to see.

In solidarity,

Zeph Capo signature

Texas AFT President