The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is a union that works towards fairness, economic opportunities, high-quality healthcare, public services and education as well as democracy. The AFT strives to achieve these goals through community engagement, collective bargaining and political activism.
The American Federation of Teachers was brought to life in 1916 with 8 members, surviving World War I, World War II, as well as The Great Depression. In the decades since its creation, the AFT made great advancements, growing from 60,000 members in 1960 to 200,000 at the beginning of the 1970s with more than 1.6 million members in 2014.Throughout their history, the AFT has been a key player in the education reform and teacher professionalization, the call for universal access to preschool, as well as sending a demand towards Congress to provide “Kindergarten-Plus”, a program created to assist schools in offering an extended year of kindergarten for children who are disadvantaged. These acts were led by AFT President Sandra Feldman (the first female president since the 1930’s).
Upon the retirement of Feldman, AFT has hosted various presidents, all offering great advancements for the association. All presidents have worked with a list top social issues concerning the association, they are as followed: free and equal education for all, working environments that are safe and sanitary, working hours and compensation that are reasonable, child labour laws, tenure for teachers, collective bargaining rights, women’s rights, and effective school and education reform. Along with these social issues, the fight for civil rights has received the most emphasis.
On the global sphere, the AFT is fighting to develop a free trade union and democracy curricula for public school systems on a global level.