Back to School Message from Jerry

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Note: We typically do not publicly share our weekly e-news, but with many new members & e-mail list updates under way, we wanted to ensure that our message reached as many people as possible! If you are a member and not receving our weekly newsletter & additional updates, please sign up right here.

8-26-22

Dear Members,

Welcome back! It has been a pleasure speaking to so many of you this week--my team and I have been criss-crossing the city visiting and conducting meetings, and the enthusiasm for the year ahead is high.

This week I had the opportunity to meet with new members at both Stetson Middle and Olney High--both newly back in the District after more than a decade of charterization. There I met veteran teachers to the school, veteran PFT members new to the building, and many brand new staff. At Olney, staff told me how meaningful it was for them to have won their charter organization under AFTPA and how excited they are to continue to have representation, now with PFT.

These visits, along with other discussions I have had with members as well as my team, have underscored the anticipation for the year ahead and have really grounded us in remembering the importance of the work all of us, collectively as a union of 13,000 members, do each day.

We also got phenomenal news from the White House this week as the Biden-Harris administration announced another major effort to relieve student debt.  As I shared in my statement, a future without student debt is in sight for even more Americans. 

I cannot emphasize this enough: elections matter

Before Wednesday's announcement, because of the Biden-Harris' administration's historic step to overhaul the Public Student Loan Forgiveness program, coupled with the settlement of Weingarten v. DeVos, PFT members, and AFT members nationally have been part of more than 8 billion dollars in loan forgiveness. AFT members as well as individuals who are not in public service will finally have some needed relief from the crushing burden of student debt. With plans to forgive $10-20K in debt, along with an extension of the pause on any loan payments, more people will be able to emerge from debt and be able to rest a little easier at night. You can read my full statement right here.

Read the plan details on this White House fact sheet.

I am also delighted to share that we are partnering with AFTPA & AFT to host an in-person student debt clinic where you will be able to learn more about options available to you!

The year ahead will not be without challenges, and my team and I are here to not only support you but to organize and fight shoulder to shoulder. Our union can, and will, continue our collective fight for the schools our children and educators deserve. That means supporting you as you navigate benefits, supporting our new educators, developing our paraprofessional career program, and so much more. It also means organizing around legislation and elections, and continuing to sound the alarm about issues such as the facilities crisis. Our power is strong when we are unified, and I am looking forward to what we will continue to accomplish together.

Membership Information: Please Share!

With many new members in your buildings, please be sure to share this information:

Below [*in membership email, and in links here], you'll find a number of updates and resources, including:

And finally, please continue to show your support for our union siblings of 32BJ SEIU as they continue contract negotiations. Read my statement of solidarity here, and share the graphic on social media here & here. [UPDATE 2:30PM: Huge contratulations to 32BJ SEIU members on their tentative agreement!]

In Solidarity,

Jerry