A petition on Change.org urges the American Federation of Teachers to withdraw its recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. The online petition recently boasted more than 4,500 signatures; most by members of the teachers’ union who complain they had no say in the matter.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said she was shocked, shocked by the blowback the union’s Clinton endorsement elicited from the rank and file. There was nothing undemocratic about the decision of AFT’s executive council, she argued. It simply was the culmination of a process that included multiple surveys, several telephone town halls and AFT’s “You Decide” website.
But ... Politico reported that the president of the 1.6-million-member AFT has donated to the independent super PAC Ready for Clinton and is a board member for the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action. Weingarten also has given money to Clinton’s previous political campaigns. And, on her watch, AFT has been a Clinton Foundation donor.
Weingarten’s very close ties with Clinton may very well explain why AFT broke ranks with the other 55 national and international unions that make up the AFL-CIO, all of which had agreed not to make endorsements before July 30, when each of the Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to be interviewed at federation headquarters.
It’s that kind of union politics that has given rise over the years to lawsuits challenging the use of union dues to promote candidates or causes with which dissenting members disagree.
Weingarten and fellow leaders of national and international unions have dismissed such suits as the work of moneyed interests that seek to undermine organized labor.
But most of the more than 4,500 signatories to the Change.org online petition are committed union members. They simply find offensive the undemocratic maneuver Weingarten employed to secure AFT’s support for her political BFF.
This was excerpted from The Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif.