Tuesday, August 3, 2021

NEA and AFT are wrong on vaccinations

Fred Klonsky has said this today, but I'm going to say it, too. 

The national teachers unions (and a few other unions as well) are wrong on vaccinations.

Randi Weingarten has said it should be locally negotiated:

"In order for everyone to feel safe and welcome in their workplaces, vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced," Weingarten said in a statement.

The NEA says that teachers should be given the option of weekly testing.

It's not clear why, exactly, the unions have taken this position. Certainly there are plenty of members who do not support mandatory vaccinations, but it's not like the nationals have been reluctant to take positions without worrying about internal opposition (for example, Common Core support and endorsing Hillary Clinton and too many years of test-centered accountability). 

The cynical view among the anti-union crowd is that this is an attempt to negotiate... something. 

Meanwhile, it seems entirely likely that it some districts, boards will resist mandatory anything at all. So the national position leaves concerned teachers hanging on their own in those districts.

It's true that some aspects of covid response will have to be worked out on the local level-- the only level at which people really know what's appropriate for that district and building. But some things are true everywhere.

Adults can be vaccinated. Children can not. Teachers already undergo mandatory vaccinations as well as mandatory background checks before they can enter a classroom. There's no reason not have mandatory covid vaccinations for the fall, and a regular covid check to go with it. I'm no fan of mandatory government stuff, but if a public health crisis that leaves children uniquely exposed doesn't qualify, I'm not sure what does. 


  1. Well said...this is about public health. It should not be a question. Everyone should get vaccinated for the safety of the community. Any other stance is absurd.

  2. Agreed. I wrote to all my associations pressing for mandates. This only denigrates teacher reputations with the public, not to mention putting kids at risk. Not OK.

  3. Agreed. I'm very upset that the unions are weaseling out of this.

  4. In Ohio I never had to have any kind of vaccine for any teaching position. I think maybe one time there was a mandatory TB test. I have a lot of risk factors for covid, but I also have risk factors for the vaccine. I already have circulatory problems, I don't need blood clots. I already have an enlarged heart. I had a pneumonia vaccine, which gave me no problems, and I'm happy I have that, because most people who die with flu or covid actually die of pneumonia. Now they say with delta a vaccinated person can have just as much viral load in their nose as an unvaccinated person. So it seems to me that masking, distancing, and ventilation systems would be more important. I'm just thankful I'm retired.

  5. Not your strongest piece. Why are people vaccine hesitant? There's a scholarly literature on the topic.

  6. This has been a local fight from the jump last year. The nationals have made that clear but thankfully UTLA, CTU and other strong urban unions have been showing us how to stand up and fight. Don’t expect it from AFT or NEA.

  7. I agree with you, and will tell my local, state, and national (NEA) unions the same, but just FYI, Oregon doesn’t require me to show I’ve had any vaccines to teach here in public schools. (It actually never occurred to me till this year.)

  8. Advising thousands of local Associations across the country to negotiate without guidelines and strategies is cowardly. At least in Maine, vaccinations would likely be non-negotiable as “ed policy“. I suspect this is true in other bargaining states, as well. Non-bargaining states may be out of luck.