Texas AFT convened its 30th biennial convention (and our first virtual convention) on June 25. With the theme “We Fight, We Win,” convention speakers and updates highlighted not only the challenges of the past year (both pandemic and political) but the victories hard-won by our members and leaders.
Underscoring those victories, several local unions won awards for growing membership in their districts and increasing donations to their political action funds — even under the constraints of the pandemic.
Congratulations to the following local unions on their achievements: Aldine AFT, Alliance-AFT, Education Austin, Education Round Rock, Goose Creek AFT, Houston Educational Support Personnel, Houston Federation of Teachers, La Joya AFT, Northeast Houston AFT, the San Antonio Alliance, and Socorro AFT.
Four featured keynote speakers addressed delegates through recorded or live presentations:
- AFT President Randi Weingarten
- Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Larry Carter
- U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia
- State Board of Education Member Matt Robinson
Their remarks covered a host of issues faced by our union, educators, and all Americans, including attacks on our democracy, continued attempts to ban meaningful civics education, and the threat of charter school expansion in Texas.
“We — all of us — want a more inclusive, more equitable, safer world for our kids, our members, and our communities,” Weingarten said in her remarks. “We want more than that. We want the freedom to thrive.”
She went on to explain AFT’s plan for national school building reopening and the reimagining of public schools.
True recovery, Weingarten said, includes “the emotional and the academic and the social supports that we need for our kids in our schools: community schools, guidance counselors, school nurses. From making sure school is a safe and welcoming place for any child to fighting for better wages and decent retirement income for all of our members.”
You can watch Weingarten’s full remarks on our Youtube channel.
After providing updates on the state of our union and its financial health, President Zeph Capo and Secretary-Treasurer Ray McMurrey were re-elected for another two-year term.
In total, delegates passed nine resolutions to guide our union’s work in the coming years. The resolutions ran the gamut, focusing on union-building, social justice, and retirement equity for all school employees.
Here are some of the notable resolutions:
- In Support of LGBTQIA+ Youth and Educators: Texas AFT is resolved to provide support and resources to local unions to engage with school district officials on the urgent need to recruit, retain, and respect LGBTQIA+ educators. Texas AFT is also resolved to oppose the passage of state laws or local policies that discriminate against students and condemns the actions taken by the Texas Legislature to condone discrimination against transgender youth.
- Saving Democracy: Texas AFT and local affiliates call for the immediate resignation of Sen. Ted Cruz for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. Texas AFT is further resolved to oppose all measures that seek to abridge voting rights in Texas. Our union resolves to support measures that make it easier to vote.
- Providing Support in Building Union Power for Higher Education Workers in Texas: Texas AFT resolves to renew our commitment to higher education organizing, stepping up efforts to strengthen our higher education local unions and remain open to possible opportunities for new higher ed organizing.
- Texas Legislature to Provide a Cost-of-Living Adjustment to All Retired TRS Members Effective Immediately: Texas AFT members call upon the Texas Legislature to provide a COLA to all retired TRS members immediately, with an initial 9% increase followed by an annual COLA based on the Consumer Price Index.
- Changing Social Security to Provide Full Access and Equity for All Educational Employees: Texas AFT will support and advocate for the passage of legislation to close the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision provisions. Our union also will advocate for all federal and state legislation needed to allow all Texas education employees full access to Social Security.