Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, made headlines on Sunday when she came out to support marriage has not changed its position on mandates ― only Weingarten personally. In a conversation with HuffPost on Monday, the clarified she was speaking as an individual, albeit influential. for educators after having previously opposed them. Weingarten drew praise for reevaluating her stance since AFT is the second-largest in the country, with 1.7 million members, and has played a prominent role in shaping school policies amid the pandemic. But the
Last fall, the union’s executive council issued a resolution stating that the to fight the coronavirus but that receiving the vaccine should not be mandatory for teachers. The council may issue a new resolution superseding that earlier one, but it has not yet done so. Weingarten told HuffPost that her union’s leaders try to manage the group’s membership’s conflicting views. “You represent everybody within a union,” Weingarten said. “We’re a democracy, just like the . We’re a big tent representing everyone, and we have to create a consensus within our membership, particularly when you’re talking about something that affects everybody. You have to go through that process of really talking to people.”
Many other labor leaders face the same internal dynamic as public and private employers move to implement . Several states plan to as a condition of employment, and employers like Tyson Foods plan to do the same. (In some cases, unvaccinated people must undergo regular COVID-19 testing.) A few , including leading unions for firefighters and meatpacking workers and the other major teachers union, the National Education Association. Other labor leaders, however, have been more enthusiastic. Before he died of a heart attack last week, he supported mandates because they would make all workers safer.
We might not discuss mandates if the U.S. had a better
. Around 71% of adults have received at least one dose of the authorized for emergency use, but in a dozen states, that rate is still below 60%. Caseloads and hospitalizations are rising across the country as the spreads, threatening in-person schools and the economy. Overall, compared to the general population, Weingarten noted. According to the White House, nearly 90% of educators and are vaccinated. Weingarten said this success story had been lost amid the anger at teachers’ unions during the .