Teachers union president signals personal support for vaccine mandates
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said during a Sunday interview that she thinks teachers need to work with employers on vaccine mandates.
Weingarten also said her organization is revisiting the issue of vaccine mandates for teachers as parts of the nation see a surge in coronavirus cases instigated by the rapidly-spreading delta variant.
The AFT has not supported such mandates previously, but Weingarten said the union was willing to work with employers to try to find solutions, and she said the rise in cases across the country is “alarming.”
“As a matter of personal conscious, I think that we need to be working with our employers, not opposing them on vaccine mandates,” she said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” with host Chuck Todd.
“And so I said last week that I wanted to bring my leadership together, and we are this week to, you know, revisit and to reconsider our policy that we passed in October about voluntary, that the best way to do this was to do it volitionally,” she said.
The union head acknowledged that most of their teacher members , about 90 percent, have “stepped up” and received the vaccine.
“But I do think that the circumstances have changed and that vaccination is a community responsibility,” she quickly added, “and it weighs really heavily on me that kids under 12 can’t get vaccinated.”
“I have really watched, particularly in Florida and Missouri I was in St Louis yesterday I was in Florida on Saturday and you just see this, and we have to counter … the misinformation,” she said.
Her comments come weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has threatened to cut off funds to schools with mask mandates as the state has been setting record highs for cases. The ban has drawn criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and has already been met with legal challenges.
“This is a public health crisis and the politics are infecting it. But I felt the need, as, you know, to bring people together and to stand up and say this as a matter of personal conscience,” she said.
“Vaccines are the single most important way of dealing with COVID. We’ve always dealt with or since 1850, we’ve dealt with vaccines in schools, it’s not a new thing to have immunizations in schools,” she also said.