American Federation Of Teachers

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History on the American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers was founded on the date of April 15, 1916, and took place in Illinois, Chicago. The first leaders of the union were Freeland Stecker and president Charles Stillman, who were both neighbors. The political and social circumstances that led to this union being formed was, while the American Federation of teachers grew quickly in the beginning and chartered 174 locals in its first four years, the years that followed World War 1, there were school boards pressuring and intimidating teachers to resign from their union. In the end of the 1920s the membership had dropped by 5,000, which was about half of their members in the 1920s. According to it states that, " throughout that time, the union fought for tenure laws (a right of a teacher or professor to not have their position taken away) and for academic freedom of committees during the "Red Scare" (worker revolution and political radicalism) following World War 1. The union grew with strong leadership, it increased membership from 7,000 in 1930 to 32,000 in 1939, and also tenure had been gained in seventeen states mostly because of the AFT's efforts. One problem that the union faced was being involved with allegations with communists infiltration (the process by which water on the ground surface enters the soil) in some locals.

Working Conditions:

Before members entered the union things were very chaotic and unorganized, they had low wages and didn't have enough rights. Now the aft work hard to advance the rules of the union, along with student education, they advance the tests and school work to make sure students are getting the proper education needed. The average teacher in America makes $52,000. That’s a small amount of money comparing it to the AFT’s executive leadership. AFT President Randi Weingarten made more than $550,000 in total (salary, benefits, etc.). In fact, across the entire AFT national office, the average salary was more than $100,000.

How many members in the union today?

There are 1.6 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide

What is the purpose of this union? What does it do for it's members?

The AFT forms school policies and programs, the union continues to list as it's achievements the promotion of professionalism in teaching as well as securing appropriate wages, better working conditions and job security for it's members. AFT members still believe that negotiating between those representing teachers and administrators is the democratic process that allows them to achieve their goals.

Who is leading the AFT?

Randi Weingarten is the leader, she was elected as president in 2008 serving the AFT. She

has launched major efforts to place real education reform high on the nation’s and her union’s agendas.

Recent events or activities involving the union:

American Federation of Teachers endorses Hillary Clinton

What is the AFT symbol and what does it represent?

It represents professionals that champion fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities
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Name of person interviewed: Darlene Rodriguez, Administrator

Q: What are your thoughts on unions?

A: I dislike the idea of unions. I believe labor is meant to be a service that a worker

provides to an employer and the employer pays for the service based on its value. Unions force employers to pay more for labor than it is actually worth.

Q: How do you become part of a union?

A: The first step to joining a union is to locate your individual union and contact it for union facts and guidance on organizing.

Q: Why were labor unions formed?

A: Labor unions were form to make sure the working public has people to defend them from corporations that put them in an unfavorable situation.

Q: What would you change?

A: I would change going on vacation anytime of the year, not just during the Summer time.

Q: What do you think are advantages to being part of a union?

A: Without the power and leverage that a union brings to the table, the worker as an individual has no power to fight for rights. With the workers brought together in a collective force, they have much more bargaining power to stave off greedy corporations.

Q: What is a con for being a union member?

A: I feel like unions can stop an employee from growing professionally. I’m only talking about my experience in an office environment. May not be the case in every organization.


Name of person interviewed: Jose Rodriguez, Engineer

Q: What are your thoughts on unions?

A: My thought on unions is that they charge too much dues. But you have to pay the dues if you want to be part of a union.

Q: How do you become part of a union?

A: Get in touch with a union organizer.

Q: Why were labor unions formed?

A: Unions are put in place to protect workers, give them fair wages, and make the workplace safer.

Q: What would you change?

A: I would change their high fees to lower fees.

Q: What is a con for being a union member?

A: A con for being a union member is paying high fees to be in the union.


Name of person interviewed: Luis Rosario, Fire Safety Director

Q: What are your thoughts on Unions?

A: Unions serve a purpose as they have a lot of good things like Safety and education of

the workers. I am grateful to the UNION for being there for me and helping me work to obtain a good pension and get many great benefits.

Q: How do you become part of a union?

A: You become part of a union by working for an employer who has a contract with a union.

Q: Why were unions formed?

A: Unions were created in an effort to protect the working population from abuses such as sweatshops and unsafe working conditions.


Summary: I learned that being part of a union could be beneficial to an employer. A union can protect an employer by helping them receive fair wages and a safer work place.