Fourteen months before Democratic Party nominating convention... American Federation of Teachers Executive Council endorses Hillary Clinton!

Five years after Randi Weingarten, the national president of the 1.6 million member American Federation of Teachers (AFT) shared the stage at the union's July 2010 national convention with Bill Gates (while snubbing Gates's union critics in the Pacific Northwest), Weingarten shocked many of the union's members by announcing that the union's leadership was endorsing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten (above) spoke to the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates meeting on April 3, 2015, but refused to take questions from the delegates after her brief remarks. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.The AFT announcement came in a press release on July 11, 2015, following a meeting of the AFT Executive Council. The AFT Executive Council consists of 42 members plus the union's national officers. Chicago's Karen Lewis is among the members of the AFT Executive Council. (The 45-members of the AFT Executive Council can be found at the AFT website. The URL is


American Federation of Teachers Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

For Release: Saturday, July 11, 2015

WASHINGTON—On Saturday, the executive council of the American Federation of Teachers voted overwhelmingly to endorse Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for president of the United States. The AFT is the first national union to endorse a candidate in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

"In vision, in experience and in leadership, Hillary Clinton is the champion working families need in the White House," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "Hillary Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by our members, and is prepared for a tough fight on behalf of students, families and communities. That fight defines her campaign and her career. In Arkansas, Hillary fought to expand access to early childhood education and care. As first lady, she fought for the right to affordable, high-quality healthcare and helped win that right for our youngest citizens. As senator, she fought for education funding and workers' rights, and she defended public service workers who came to our nation's defense on Sept. 11. And as secretary of state, she promoted democracy throughout the world, lifting up the worth and dignity of all people—men and women, gay and straight."

Weingarten continued, "Hillary Clinton, a product of public schools herself, believes in the promise of public education. From early childhood learning through higher education, she sees how that promise can create real opportunity for kids, building a much-needed bridge to the middle class. Hillary understands that to reclaim the promise of public education, policymakers need to work with educators and their unions. She's ready to work with us to confront the issues facing children and their families today, including poverty, wage stagnation, income inequality and lack of opportunity. Hillary is the leader we need to help us reclaim the promise of public education and, indeed, of America."

Upon learning of the union's endorsement, Clinton said, "For nearly a century, the American Federation of Teachers has worked to expand opportunity for the people and communities they serve. I'm honored to have the support of AFT's members and leaders, and proud to stand with them to unleash the potential of every American."

Clinton continued, "I know from my own family that teachers have the power to change lives. We need to make sure every child has access to a quality public education and teachers with the tools to help them succeed. Our country's future depends on the education we give all our children — and giving them the best means working with the teachers and school personnel who help shape their futures each day."

As in past elections, the AFT's 1.6 million members will be a powerful organizing force behind our endorsed candidate. Leading up to November 2016, AFT members are expected to make more than 1 million phone calls and knock on more than 500,000 doors.

The AFT's endorsement comes a month after Clinton attended an executive council meeting in Washington, D.C. At that meeting, she said, "It is just dead wrong to make teachers the scapegoats for all of society's problems. Where I come from, teachers are the solution. And I strongly believe that unions are part of the solution, too."

Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley also spoke with the executive council at that meeting. All potential and announced candidates were invited to complete a questionnaire, and those who returned the questionnaire were invited to meet with the council. No Republican candidates responded to the invitation.

The AFT has conducted a long, deliberative process to assess which candidate would best champion the issues of importance to our members, their families and communities. Members have been engaged online, through the "You Decide" website, through several telephone town halls, and through multiple surveys—reaching more than 1 million members.

Additionally, over the past few weeks, the AFT has conducted a scientific poll of our membership on the candidates and key issues. The top issues members raised were jobs and the economy and public education. Seventy-nine percent of our members who vote in Democratic primaries said we should endorse a candidate. And by more than a 3-to-1 margin, these members said the AFT should endorse Clinton.

This week, the AFT will begin its biennial TEACH conference, a gathering of thousands of educators. Weingarten will address the conference at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, with a press availability to follow. Her remarks will include information about the endorsement. For more information on the TEACH conference, please email Laura Pometto at (link sends e-mail).

- See more at:


A major teachers’ union voted on Saturday to give Hillary Rodham Clinton an early endorsement for president, a boost to her pro-labor credentials as she prepares to outline in more detail an economic vision focused on lifting middle-class incomes and tries to fend off a stronger-than-expected challenge from the left.

The endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers was not a surprise. The group is led by Randi Weingarten, a longtime ally of Mrs. Clinton, and backed her in her losing primary battle against Barack Obama in 2008.

But the union’s support comes at an opportune moment for Mrs. Clinton, who on Monday plans to give her first major speech on the economy, designed in part to neutralize criticism from her leading Democratic challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Sanders has surged in the polls by appealing to the populist anger of many Democrats over economic issues.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, received an endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers on Saturday. Mrs. Clinton with Randi Weingarten, the president of the teachers' union, in New York in 2003.

Mrs. Clinton will present a stark assessment of a middle class whose weekly earnings have virtually stalled for 15 years, and she will criticize “trickle-down” Republican policies as having contributed to a vast concentration of wealth among the richest Americans, according to campaign aides. They offered a preview of the speech, to be delivered at the New School in New York, on the condition of anonymity.

The emphasis on what economists have called “the great wage slowdown” of the 21st century is the result of Mrs. Clinton’s months of conversations with more than 200 domestic policy experts and dozens of economists. She believes that increasing the wages of average Americans to reduce income inequality is the “defining economic challenge of our time,” a campaign aide said. To that end, Mrs. Clinton will present proposals that include paid family medical leave, an increase in the federal minimum wage and incentives for corporations to increase profit-sharing programs. She will also praise President Obama’s plan to make more workers eligible for overtime pay.

Mrs. Clinton will highlight the economic record of the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, when median family income, adjusted for inflation, increased to $56,080 in 1999 from $48,884 in 1993, according to census data. But she will also lay out a vision that contrasts with Mr. Clinton’s message of self-reliance and his assertion that the era of big government was over.

Mrs. Clinton will also propose more investment in infrastructure, tax relief for small businesses, better access to child care, assistance to make college more affordable, stronger support for collective bargaining and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.

Many of these proposals are part of the economic agenda pressed on Mrs. Clinton by union leaders, in particular Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Mr. Trumka has been privately urging individual unions like the teachers’ federation to hold off any endorsements until they are satisfied that this agenda has been fully embraced.

But in an interview, Ms. Weingarten said the membership overwhelmingly supported Mrs. Clinton, which became clear in two town hall meetings and two polls of the membership in the last six weeks.

The economic team that advised Mrs. Clinton included Jake Sullivan, Ann O’Leary and Maya Harris from her campaign; Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and the policy director of Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign; and the former White House advisers Gene Sperling and Alan S. Blinder.

The liberal economists Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality, and Alan B. Krueger, a co-author of “Inequality in America” and a professor at Princeton, also influenced Mrs. Clinton.

Campaign aides said Mrs. Clinton planned to use Monday’s speech to present her overall assessment of the economy. She will delve more deeply into specifics, including her plans to change the tax code, regulate Wall Street and curb corporations’ emphasis on short-term profits rather than long-term investment in employees, in a series of future speeches, they said.

It remains to be seen whether Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis on wage growth to alleviate income inequality will be enough to allay growing concerns over economic disparity. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in late May, two-thirds of Americans said they thought the distribution of money and wealth in this country should be more even.

Two of Mrs. Clinton’s opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Sanders and former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, are trying to appeal to liberals concerned that Mrs. Clinton will not go far enough in addressing inequality and that her $200,000 paid speeches to Wall Street have made her overly cozy with the top 1 percent.

Both Mr. Sanders and Mr. O’Malley met with the teachers’ union. At her meeting, Mrs. Clinton said teachers shouldn’t be the “scapegoat” for society’s ills — an acknowledgment that education policy remains one of the few areas of unsettled debate within the Democratic Party. President Obama’s education agenda has often infuriated teachers’ unions, and last year the head of the National Education Association, another union representing teachers, called for the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, to be fired.

Months ago, Ms. O’Leary, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton, said the candidate would listen to both sides in the education debate. In a statement after the endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers, Mrs. Clinton said that teachers’ voices “and voices of all workers are essential to this country.”


July 12, 2015 at 1:54 PM

By: Bob Schmetzer

AFL-CIO Endorsements on hold

President Richard Trumka asked for all unions to hold their endorsements until a later date. Why did the AFT break ranks ?

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 3 =