American Federation of Teachers Supports Workplace Democracy Act

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Oriana Korin

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in support of legislation introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), the Workplace Democracy Act.

“Despite repeated attacks and smears from the right, the role of unions and the need for them is clearer than ever. People see the value in acting collectively and the strength in joining together to fight for better wages, benefits and working conditions. This legislation would ease some of the obstacles erected to make it harder for workers to join unions, and would help deter employers from exploiting their workforce.

“This bill would allow for unions to organize through a majority sign-up process, prevent companies from denying first contracts, eliminate ‘right to work’ laws, and expand the definition of employer to hold bosses accountable for the way they treat their workforce. It also would allow for secondary boycotts and picketing and would reinstate unions’ freedom of speech to fight back against union-busting. It would be, by all accounts, a massive restoration of the power that helped our movement grow and thrive over the last century.

“We know one thing for sure: Unions lead to higher wages, better benefits and a more secure retirement for all workers. The decline in unionization is tied directly to the rise in inequality, and while corporate profits are at an all-time high, teachers around the country are protesting because they haven’t seen raises in a decade. The need for more democracy in the workplace has never been greater.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

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