Weingarten open to vaccine mandates for teachers after opposing them

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

She was against it before she was for it. The president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) now is fine with COVID-19 vaccine mandates for teachers. She is also quick to say that Governors Abbott and DeSantis are “hurting people” as she rails that “politics are infecting” the public health crisis of the pandemic.

The irony is rich with this woman. One thing that the pandemic has accomplished is that it pulled back the curtain on the evilness of teachers’ unions. Most people realized that the unions are political wings of the Democrat Party and the problem has only gotten worse with the election of Biden. Jill Biden is a member of a teacher’s union and campaigned on the unions having one of them in the White House, a voice for them in the Oval Office. The pandemic exposed just how corrupt and selfish union leadership is and it’s not for the good of children. It’s all about them.

Teachers were moved to the front of the line when COVID-19 vaccines became available. They were right up there with first responders and health care workers. We were told that teachers deserved special consideration because they would be working with children when the schools reopened. The problem is that teacher union leadership never intended to reopen schools, in fact, they openly campaigned to keep them closed and rely on virtual learning. In-class learning was available mostly through private schools in the 2020-2021 school year. Though most teachers are vaccinated, Weingarten says that number is about 90%, she’s been unwilling to say the vaccines should be mandated for teachers. Now, with the Delta variant used as her excuse, she is changing her tune.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Weingarten told Chuck Todd that teachers should be working with schools, not opposing their policies when it comes to vaccine mandates.

Weingarten told him that “on a personal matter,” she believes “we need to be working with our employers—not opposing them—on vaccine mandates, and all their vaccine policies.” She said she is bringing her leadership together to revisit a policy passed in October about the issue.

She added she understands that religious and health exemptions must be honored, and said there are ways of accommodating different needs, such as allowing unvaccinated teachers to opt for regular testing.

“You have to work together on these vaccine policies,” she said.

Weingarten praised teachers for getting vaccinated, saying they are one of the most vaccinated professions. She said teachers are “heroes” who have been “trying to help in every which way.”

“My members have stepped up,” she said. “Ninety percent of the teacher members have actually gotten the vaccine, but I do think that the circumstances have changed and that vaccination is a community responsibility. And it weighs really heavily on me that kids under 12 can’t get vaccinated.”

Weingarten points to a combination of vaccinations and masks as protection for children too young to be vaccinated. “The most important goal is to get students back into schools. The number one priority is to get kids to be back in school. We know kids need to be in school.” It sure would have been nice if union leadership walked that walk instead of just talking the talk last year. Many students will never recover from the loss of in-class learning during the pandemic.

Her contention that the unions aren’t politicizing the pandemic, it’s Republican governors doing that, is laughable. Why else specifically call out two Republican governors? Abbott, the governor of the biggest red state, and DeSantis who has been an alpha dog in guiding Florida through the pandemic are her examples of politicians “hurting people”. Authoritarians like Weingarten don’t like Abbott’s approach that personal responsibility can take over at this point in the pandemic and DeSantis openly criticizes Biden and the CDC for mixed messages and perpetual mandates. She also did a drive-by hit to Fox News.

“The disinformation campaign and what people like Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis are doing, they are hurting people in terms of their public health by this disinformation campaign,” she told host Chuck Todd.

Weingarten also criticized Fox News for its coverage of the pandemic, which she said spreads misinformation, but offered praise of host Sean Hannity for a widely viewed segment last month in which he said it “absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated.”

“People need to hear that,” she said.

It’s an often repeated trope used by Democrats that Republicans are anti-vaxxers. DeSantis and Abbott, to use her examples, are both vaccinated and encourage residents in their states to get vaccinated, too. In Texas, the greatest numbers of non-vaccinated people are in the black and Hispanic communities. What she opposes is that both governors have signed orders to not allow pandemic mandates like the wearing of masks and vaccinations to be used in places like schools.

Some school districts are considering offering incentives to non-vaccinated teachers. Some school districts are requiring teachers to be vaccinated before the new school year begins, as in Denver. Weingarten talks about leaving the decision to “locals”. Union leadership is talking about using vaccine mandates as a bargaining chip for the return to classroom instruction. I’m willing to bet that many school districts will not reopen because of teachers refusing to return to classrooms until all the students are vaccinated, too. They can put off returning to their regular jobs for another year at this pace. The new school year is literally only days away in some states and Weingarten is only now talking about working with “locals”?

It should be noted that the NEA, with 3 million members is not on board with a vaccine mandate. President Becky Pringle said in a statement last week, “Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated and if they can’t, they should be tested on a regular basis.”

If you remember, the L.A. teachers union demanded Medicare for All and defunding police, as well as weighing in on wealth taxes during their last contract negotiations. Teacher union leaders are not looking out for the children they are supposed to be teaching. Teacher unions should be abolished. It’s all about leftist politics with them. The pandemic has proven that.