In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.
As the landscape of student debt shifts, and more and more opportunities allow borrowers to have their debt relieved, the AFT is using every avenue to ensure that the word is out. In affiliate meetings, telephone town halls, media coverage and social media, the union is spreading the news, and at a student debt clinic at AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 31, AFT President Randi Weingarten vowed to reach as many people as possible with information that could save them tens—and sometimes hundreds—of thousands of dollars.
“It was like waking up and learning you won the lottery.” That’s just one of the comments flooding the AFT offices from members who are elated to be free of student debt at last. After relentless advocacy, including an AFT lawsuit against former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that was so broken is finally doing what it is supposed to do: delivering relief from student debt for thousands of borrowers. So far, $6.2 billion in student debt has been forgiven for 100,000 public service workers like teachers, nurses and professors.
August 20, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a largely unmitigated disaster. More than half a million Americans have died as a result of the virus. Through it all, nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, other healthcare professionals, and the various staff that keep our hospitals running have been worked to the bone. Without the efforts of these workers, including the workers who we represent across the state of Wisconsin, many more would have tragically lost their lives. As if healthcare workers weren’t a vital part of society before, the debt they are owed after what they’ve struggled through over the past year and a half is vast.
Despite the service of these workers to the communities in which they live and beyond, the healthcare corporations that they are employed by have not done enough to reciprocate these efforts. At several junctures over the course of the pandemic, employers have refused to offer bonuses for essential workers, failed to provide ample Personal Protective Equipment, failed to provide proper medical equipment, failed to provide proper staffing, and failed to produce appropriately safe working conditions. To sum it up, corporate healthcare employers have failed their workers and the people to whom they provide care. While the frontlines were starved for support, it was the bottom lines that received the reinforcements. This behavior isn’t new on the part of these corporations, but the stark differences between their words and their actions has never been more clear than now.
Hazard pay, paid quarantine leave, and covered medical costs are on your ballot. Vote for the people who have your back. It’s been about 200 days since the Wisconsin legislature passed a bill or held a vote on any legislation. Meanwhile, almost 2,000 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19. You’ve been overworked every day of this pandemic, and things just keep getting worse. These candidates have affirmed their support for your right to hazard pay, paid leave, and covered medical costs. We urge you to support them because they support you.
Black Lives Matter. We have made statements and demanded justice in the past regarding the merciless killings of Black people. Thankfully, Jacob Blake is still among the living, albeit forever changed. It is crucial in this moment to listen, learn, and lift up the voices of those directly impacted by our unjust systems. Then, we must all act. Rather than making yet another statement, we are sharing the words of several Black-led groups working in the struggle to win justice and basic human rights, as well as suggestions for meaningful actions you can take right now. Support them. Listen to them. In the labor movement, we call it “collective bargaining” when directly affected people get their say in how their institutions should function. This is a concept we, as a union, should continue to champion in this scenario.
On 12/2/20, our union sent a letter to high level corporate executives at Ascension Wisconsin and to the local administration of St. Francis Hospital outlining the ways in which the disrespect of frontline staff and their union have directly contributed to the incredibly difficult working conditions in the hospital. WFNHP respectfully demanded the immediate implementation of a paid leave program for all frontline workers to deal with COVID-19 related illness; hazard pay for all healthcare workers in their employ; and a genuinely collaborative approach to stabilizing the staffing crisis in the hospital. We laid out the timeline of events since the beginning of the pandemic that clearly demonstrate our repeated attempts to protect and respect our nurses and health professionals and the ways in which we attempted to bring about concerning issues related to staffing and quality care between March and November of this year.
Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Local 5000, AFT, AFL, CIO Statement on Black Lives Matter
WFNHP stands in absolute solidarity with our community seeking justice for the countless and senseless deaths of Black people across the world. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the latest painful symptoms of the underlying condition of systemic racism in America. The institutions in our country that are supposed to protect and serve, deliver justice, and keep us healthy have failed the Black and Brown communities time and again because they were never truly designed to work for those communities.
AFT nurses, healthcare professionals, public employees, teachers, school staff and many others are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, November 1, 2019, from 5:00-9:00 PM we will be holding our Annual Fall Membership/Dinner Meeting and Election of Local 5000 Officers at Klemmer's Banquet Center, 10401 W. Oklahoma Ave. in West Allis.
Election: Voting will take place from 5:30-7:30 PM at Klemmer's Banquet Center (Maryland Room). Members can stop by any time during these hours to cast their ballot. You do not have to attend the dinner meeting in order to vote.
Dinner Meeting: For a $5.00 registration fee, members will enjoy a delicious family style dinner including beef pot roast, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables, salad, rolls and coffee, tea or milk to drink. (A cash bar will also be available.) Pre-registration is required by October 23, 2019.