by Michael Kane
Crystal Lewis of THE CHIEF continues to produce critical reporting on COVID vaccination and American educators. On February 11th she wrote the following:
Backs Off ‘Mandatory’
Although many Teachers see the vaccine as key to restoring full-time in-person learning, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, backed off previous statements she made supporting mandatory vaccinations for educators. During a Feb. 9 interview, she said that proving to those who were hesitant that the vaccine works was necessary before school districts begin having discussions about whether vaccinations should be required.
“Personally, I want 100 percent of people to have the vaccine and frankly, I am glad educators are clamoring for it,” Ms. Weingarten said. “I am hopeful that these vaccinations work well enough that we have as normal a year next year as possible, and there’s no one that’s going to be as happy about that as educators.” (emphasis added)
Now I ask our readers, especially all the teachers, does this really equate to “backing off” of her statements from September of 2020 where she blatantly said teachers should be force vaccinated to keep our jobs?
While this is nowhere near what the steering committee for TEACHERS FOR CHOICE was looking for, we do now need to take a look at our 7 Demands of New York Teacher Unions and ponder the following question:
Has our first and most critical demand actually been met?
Here is the exact language of that demand:
(1) UFT President Michael Mulgrew needs to release a formal statement in support of CHOICE for teachers and students pertaining to Flu and COVID vaccinations, and AFT President Randi Weingarten must rescind her statement supporting forced vaccination of all in-person teachers. United Healthcare Workers Union 1199 has already released such a statement – read that here.
We know that Michael Mulgrew recently stated vaccination is a personal choice on February 4th during a UFT telephonic town hall meeting where 20,000 UFT members were on the the call to hear him (myself included). And now we have Weingarten taking what I would call a baby step away from her call for forced vaccination. She is now saying we need to see proof the vaccine works before we force inject it into the arms of educators to keep our jobs. I am sure that recent CDC guidelines saying teacher vaccination is not a “prerequisite” to opening schools has impacted Weingarten’s stance.
However I am also sure TEACHERS FOR CHOICE is having a big impact on the narrative surrounding COVID vaccination and our teacher union leaders. This is a very good thing. I would love to see a lot of comments on this post from teachers and educators on whether you believe our 1st demand has now been met by Mulgrew & Weingarten.
Crystal Lewis highlights a recent survey by the National Educators Association (NEA) showing 84% of 3400 educators surveyed want to get the COVID vaccine, 11% do not, and 5% are unsure. Assuming these numbers are an accurate representation of educators, they are encouraging. Here is why:
84% of educators is far and above the the percentage health officials claim is needed to induce “herd immunity.” The 16% who won’t get, or are unsure if they will get the vaccine represent too small a number to effect this outcome. On the other hand 11-to-16% is a large enough block of teachers to represent a voting and financial threat to the unions, and such a large portion of rank-&-file workers simply cannot be ignored.
One of TEACHERS FOR CHOICE top advisors cautioned me not to take the NEA’s survey numbers too seriously, saying there are many who would be too scared to openly admit to their union they will not be getting the COVID vaccine. The 16% NEA says who won’t or may not get the shot is drastically lower than the average has been in most national surveys to date.