A.F.T. Approves Creation of Associate Membership

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Delegates to the 69th convention of the American Federation of Teachers this summer approved the creation of a new "associate membership" category that the union's leaders say could substantially increase their ranks in the near future.

The action amends the federation's constitution by permitting any individual living in an area where there is no A.F.T. local to join the national as an associate member. In addition, the amendment allows retirees and former A.F.T. members to become associate members, as long as they do not live within the jurisdiction of a local with a retiree chapter.

A.F.T. officials said the provisions even permit members of the National Education Association to join the A.F.T., if they wish.

Because the union will not bargain for associate members, their dues will be considerably less than those paid by the rank and file.

Associates will not have voting rights or be eligible to run for office, but they will receive the federation's publications and have the option of participating in its benefit programs.

In calling for the amendment's approval in his state-of-the-union address, Albert Shanker, president of the A.F.T., told the 3,500 delegates that the new category could increase the A.F.T.'S membership to more than 1 million "within a short period of time." Currently, the A.F.T. has 630,000 members. A.F.T. officials said the teacher's union is the first affiliate of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to establish an associate-member category.

The N .E.A. offers a type of associate membership, but it differs from the A.F.T. plan, said Nancy Young, an N.E.A. spokesman.

Only individuals peripherally involved in education-such as publishers-are eligible to be associate members of the NE.A., Ms. Young said. Practicing educators are only eligible for "full, active membership," she said.

Delegates also approved a constitutional amendment increases the monthly per-capita tax locals must pay the national office from $5.50 to $5.85, effective Sept. 1, and to $6_20 beginning in September 1987.

In seeking support b the increase, Mr. Shanker reminded delegates that the A.F.T. has over the past few years "put tremendous resources" into defending its locals in battles with the N.E.A.

A.F.T. delegates once again showed their support for Mr. Shanker's leadership by overwhelmingly re-electing him to his seventh two-year term as president.

In the open balloting-delegates must sign their ballot cards-Mr. Shanker received 339,683 votes.

His only challenger, Ellen Lavroff, president of the Colorado Community College Faculty federation and chairman of the A.F.T.'S United Action Caucus, received 15,924 votes.

In an effort to recruit and train talented college graduates for teaching, the A.F.T.-in conjunction with the American Can Company Foundation-announced plans to establish alternative routes to teacher certification in seven city school systems.

In Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, St. Paul, and San Francisco, union leaders will work with representatives from the school district, a local college or university, and the business community to develop a teacher-internship program.

American Can has provided $114,000 in "seed" money to plan and launch the projects.

Generally, A.F.T. officials said, the program is designed to encourage liberal-arts and science graduates lacking formal teacher training to try teaching; to provide such individuals with a supervised internship; and to offer talented, experienced teachers the opportunity of serving as mentors to interns.

In other action, the delegates:

  • Opposed testing teachers for illegal drugs.
  • Called for public preschool programs staffed by licensed and certified personnel.
  • Supported the certification of paraprofessional classroom assistants.
  • Opposed the practice of rep lacing public employees with private contractors.
  • Created an A.F.T. task force to formulate ways of reducing teachers' paperwork.

Vol. 06, Issue 01, Page 12

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