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Delegates celebrate 100 years of AFT at 2016 convention


Hundreds of IFT members from locals around the state joined more than 3,000 delegates and guests at the American Federation of Teachers 84th convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Delegates convened for four days to discuss and debate important issues in education and take care of important union business at the biennial convention.  

Day one of the convention featured Secretary Hillary Clinton, who was later endorsed by the AFT in her bid for President. Secretary Clinton electrified the capacity-crowd with her praise for teachers and her promise to support public education and teachers unions. 

“I want to thank you for being one of the essential partners for everything we need to do to move the country in the right direction,” Clinton addressed delegates. “I want to say right from the outset that I’m with you. When I’m president, you will have a partner in the White House, and you will always have a seat at the table.” She later added, “Neither Donald Trump nor Mike Pence should be anywhere near our children’s future.” 

The AFT honored IFT member Erika Wozniak (CTU Local 1), a teacher at Oriole Park School in Chicago, with its “Everyday Hero” award. A fifth-grade science teacher, Wozniak is also a tough-minded unionist. She’s an uncompromising delegate for the Chicago Teachers Union—someone who isn’t afraid to go to the extra mile for her CTU sisters and brothers and the students they serve. She also volunteers as a mentor teacher and a member of the licensure board for the Illinois State Board of Education. As a rank-and-file activist, Wozniak has led campaigns to keep education dollars in the classroom and not for pet projects for the Mayor of Chicago. 

The AFT hosted a panel celebrating its 100th anniversary. IFT retiree Beatrice Lumpkin was a member of the panel and joked that at 98, she was only two years younger than the AFT, but was trying to catch up. Lumpkin has learned many lessons from spending 83 years in labor and community organizing, but she summed them up with three words: peace, unity and struggle.

“Our children need peace, home and abroad,” she said, calling for an end to violence and wars. “How can we say that all lives matter, unless we make sure that black lives matter?”

AFT’s top officers were elected and seated at the convention. Delegates overwhelmingly reelected Randi Weingarten to a fifth term as AFT president, Lorretta Johnson was reelected as secretary-treasurer, and Minnesota native Mary Cathryn Ricker was reelected executive vice president. IFT President Dan Montgomery and IFT Executive Vice President Karen Lewis were reelected as vice presidents on the 43-member AFT Executive Board. 

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