First, the official news:
The American Federation of Teachers is endorsing Hillary Clinton.Jeb Bush raised over a hundred million dollars for the primary campaign so far - you can bet he'll raise a ton more as the campaign goes on.
The endorsement was expected from the 1.6 million-member union, which represents workers including teachers, nurses and college and university employees.
On Twitter, Weingarten addressed the early endorsement. “Members want to shape the debate, not chase it. 79% of primary voters want us to endorse in the primary,” she tweeted.
AFT said it conducted a long, thoughtful process before making its decision. Members had multiple opportunities to weigh in on the decision. Some 79 percent who vote in Democratic primaries said the union should endorse a candidate, and Clinton was the favorite by a three-to-one margin.
The National Education Association, the nation’s larger teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members, hasn’t made a decision about its endorsement, and one isn’t expected until the fall. It did not endorse either Clinton or Barack Obama in 2008.
Given the fundraising, Bush remains a good shot to be the eventual GOP nominee for 2016.
By endorsing Hillary Clinton this early, the AFT can be taken for granted by the Clinton campaign for the rest of the campaign cycle.
God forbid Randi Weingarten and the sellouts at the AFT would say, "You know, Hillary talked a good game when we were met with her, but so did Barack Obama when we met with him and so did Bill Clinton when we met with him and in each of those instances we remember that actions did not match the words. So we're withholding an endorsement and will NOT work for Hillary Clinton UNTIL we are assured she will NOT continue her husband's, George Bush's and Barack Obama's pro-privatization, anti-public education policies. If we are not assured of this, we will NOT work for Hillary Clinton and will work to make sure that other labor groups do not as well."
Instead of playing some hardball and showing Clinton why the AFT shouldn't be taken for granted, the AFT announced an endorsement 16 months before the election, six months before the first caucus/primary.
Nobody I know is surprised by the AFT endorsement - Weingarten's closeness to the Clintons all but assured that.
But to announce the endorsement this early, to do so without any assurances from Clinton that she will support public schools except for some meaningless campaign rhetoric in a statement throws away leverage the union could have used against Clinton as things tighten in the campaign.
This is a pattern for the AFT/UFT/NYSUT - throwing away leverage and giving the neoliberal politicians what they want.
We saw this with the UFT when they endorsed Merryl Tisch's pal Bill Thompson in the NYC mayoral primary and we saw it with NYSUT and the UFT when they refused to endorse Zephyr Teachout against Andrew Cuomo in last year's gubernatorial election and threatened the Working Families Party with dissolution if Teachout was given the party nod. We saw it too when Weingarten helped out the Cuomo campaign buy calling for Cuomo's troubled running mate, Kathy Hochul.
There is never a moment in time when the AFT/UFT/NYSUT leadership doesn't go out of their way to throw out their political leverage, to take political actions that make the unions inconsequential, to sell out the rank and file for their own political expediency.
Weingarten loves access and she loves media attention - the Clinton endorsement gives her both.
But it doesn't give the AFT rank-and-file any political benefit as whatever political leverage we had gets thrown away 16 months early.
As such, it is a just another example of why the AFT is an inconsequential union that may go the way of the dinosaurs when the Supreme Court weighs in on the Friedrichs case.