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American Federation of Teachers

American federation of teachers (AFT) is an American based labor union that represents teachers in the country. It was formed in 1916 in Chicago by its founder Margaret Haley. The growth of the union was slightly slow during the first few years as some members were still reluctant to move from the current union. The union has approximately 1.7 million members with over 60% of them working directly education system. The remaining 40% of the members are paraprofessionals and other school based personnel local state and other federal employees all in the education sector Schmidt (1998). These also include members from higher learning institutions and their staffs as well as nurses and other healthcare practitioners. The founders of the organization had a common ground and they all believed that the then union (National Education Association) did not represent their needs and sentiments well and they therefore needed to a stronger union that could air their views which included:

  • Better salaries
  • Better working and living conditions
  • Protection from basic rights that were out rightly violated.

Generally most teachers join the union immediately after getting their teaching jobs. The organization however does not allow educators to join the union without directly applying for it Chavez (2004). After joining through your local teachers’ union you automatically become a member of the union and can start enjoying the benefits that come with it. At the top of the union is the members of the union below that is the local union, below that is the state organization and finally there is the larger organization which is the AFT.

Over the many years of its existence the union has been involved in many legal disputes just like every other organization. Some of these disputes include:

  1. American Federation of Teachers vs Robert GREEN Plaintiff-Appellant

This was as a result of firing of Robert Green by the Aurora East School District in 2010 from his position as teacher. He requested his union to pursue the grievance under a collective bargaining agreement but the union refused\. He also requested the union to represent him in a law suit against the school but the union refused on that too. He filed the suit himself, won and was later reinstated. Mr. Green, a black American, felt betrayed by his union which he had been a member for a long time and argued that it was only right for them to look into the matters that led to his firing.

The union argued that it was not in their agreement to protect its members from although it was justifiable for the union to refuse his requests as the district court of Illinois la did not require teachers’ unions to represent teachers by filing any grievances under the Tenure Act. There were no strikes involved in solving the case but the court had fair hearings of all the events that led to firing of Mr. Green. The judge who preceded the case was very confident that he would not win against the union if the union had blatantly discriminated and handed its victim an engraved admission. Finally, Mr. Green won the case, surprisingly and he also got his job back.

  1. American Federation of Teachers Vs AFTexposed .Com

The case was filed in court on 10/08/2009 in Michigan. The legal claims of the dispute were Cybersquatting and Trademark Infringement. The parties involved were the American federation of teachers and (Kyle Olson; Education Action Group Foundation). was a website that published political commentary about the AFT. They exposed the agendas, finances and all other tactics that the America federation of teachers was involved in. AFT therefore sued them of using their acronym and demanded the immediately cessation of the use of the domain or any other variant that includes the acronym AFT.

The case in court went on for some time and as later withdrawn. The case was later solved through arbitration where AFT contacted informing them that they were deeply committed to free speech and would never again attempt to stifle their freedom of speech. The secretary general of the organization also made it clear that the only concern was that the website’s logo was very close to that of their organization hence creating concerns on what the website’s intentions towards the organization were. claimed that they have their own logo and did not use the AFT’s logo at any particular time so they were two made clear that the American Federation of Teachers does not like the Although the case ended there still remained some bad blood between the two but there have been no other cases reported ever since.

Chicago Teachers Union Strike

On April 2016 the Chicago teachers union threatened to go on strike. They protested for increase in ages as well as provision of fast food. The president of AFT joined the teachers in their strike that as paraded in the streets of city hall, the cook county and Chicago state university. Although some organizations such as CPU claimed that the strike conducted was not legally allowed and they argued that the USA Supreme Court decision that deals with private sector workers and told the Chicago tribune that timing requirements do not necessarily apply if the employer is responsible for the unfair labor practices.

Many churches and other private and public sectors stepped in to help solve the causes of the strike. However, the CTU had close relationships with many influential activists and community leaders that actively involved themselves on the issues encountered by the teachers of Chicago. The strike was also viewed as politically generated as the union was divided into two opposing groups which made it hard to resolve the conflict. One group thought the many problems they faced were caused by the mayor of Chicago and believed it would only benefit a few people according to Basca (1994).

The dispute was solved through from other organizations that intervened and helped resolve it. The teachers’ grievances were addressed according and the strike called off. Though not all of the things they had been fighting for were met, they most important of them were met. These included the raising of their wages and better working conditions for all the teachers both in public and private sectors.


Bascia, N. (1994).Unions in teachers’ professional lives. New York: Teachers College Press.

Chavez, L. (1997). An era of crystal clear views. Chicago Tribune, p. 17.

Schmidt, N. (1978). The American Federation of Teachers and the CIA. Chicago:

Substitutes United for Better Schools (SUBS).



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