The Maritime Trades Department (MTD) recently welcomed its newest affiliate: the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). “We are very proud and honored that the AFT has joined the ranks of the MTD,” declared MTD President Michael Sacco, who also is president of the SIU. “We have had a very good working relationship with the AFT and its members from the local level up throughout the years.
“People may wonder why the Teachers would join,” he continued. “Well, without teachers, none of us would have a chance to learn critical new ideas, to fight for our members and to succeed in life.”
The MTD is a constitutional department of the AFL-CIO. It has 22 affiliates with a collective membership of approximately six million.
“The AFT is proud to join the Maritime Trades Department,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Together, we can fight for what all Americans want – a better life and a better future for our families – through good jobs; high-quality, affordable health care; a secure retirement; great public schools; affordable college; and a healthy democracy.”
The AFT represents 1.7 million teachers, paraprofessionals and school staff, higher education faculty and staff, nurses, other health care professionals, and public employees.
AFT members work as instructors and staff at a variety of public maritime schools, colleges and programs across the United States. The union also represents workers at the Guam Port Authority.
During the last two years, MTD affiliates – prominently including the SIU – and the AFT have worked together to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastating hurricanes of 2017, including the delivery and dispersal of 100,000 water filters. Weingarten spoke directly about that labor solidarity when she addressed the 2018 MTD executive board meeting in Orlando, Florida.
At the start of this year, members of the Port Maritime Council of Southern California immediately adopted a local school when the United Teachers of Los Angeles went on strike on Jan. 10. They walked picket lines and provided supplies (including food and drinks) during the six-day struggle.
In 2018, the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York/ New Jersey and Vicinity recognized Weingarten with its Paul Hall Award of Merit. In receiving the recognition, Weingarten told the audience how MTD affiliates helped her local, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, gain recognition in the early 1970s.