4 Highlights From Randi Weingarten’s Testimony on School Lockdowns

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Lecturers, fielded lawmakers’ questions Wednesday about her highly effective union’s position at school closures throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Weingarten, who leads the nation’s second-largest academics union, testified earlier than the Home Choose Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on why the AFT pushed faculty lockdowns. 

The New York Put up reported Tuesday that newly surfaced emails from Feb. 7, 2021, present that each the American Federation of Lecturers and the biggest academics union, the Nationwide Schooling Affiliation, requested the White Home and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention for assist in shaping a public relations technique in order that they might be on the identical web page within the media. 

Emails between the AFT officers and the CDC present that Weingarten’s academics union might have influenced public well being tips on COVID-19. 

The emails show the union thanked the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention for “responsiveness to the strategies made by Randi,” and described itself as a “thought accomplice” in shaping CDC tips throughout the pandemic.

Emails additionally present that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stated the AFT’s suggestions have been labored into CDC steering for colleges “with just some small tweaks.”

Listed below are highlights from Weingarten’s testimony earlier than the Home panel trying into what occurred throughout the pandemic. 

1. ‘Speaking With Biden Transition Crew’

Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, acquired right down to specifics.

 “What did the session appear like?” Wenstrup requested Weingarten. “Did the AFT first have interaction the CDC, or did the CDC attain out to you?”

Weingarten responded:  “What basically occurred, sir, was that we have been speaking to the Biden transition group earlier than he was sworn into workplace.”

Wenstrup requested: “Did they attain out to you?”

Weingarten replied: “Sure, the Biden transition group reached out to us.”

Wenstrup requested whether or not those that reached out to the American Federation of Lecturers included Walensky, the long run CDC director, or anybody else who went to work for that company within the Biden administration. 

“I don’t need to speculate,” Weingarten responded. “There have been plenty of conferences with plenty of folks.”

Wenstrup requested: “When was the primary time you engaged with CDC in any method, form, or type immediately?”

Weingarten didn’t present a transparent reply.

“The primary time was after they requested us to do the Zoom [call], I believe [was] the primary time,” Weingarten stated, earlier than stopping. “Look, I’m 65 years outdated.” 

Wenstrup stated, “Me too.”

Weingarten added: “I don’t bear in mind every little thing anymore.”

2. ‘Our Activists Who Have been in Faculties Had Died’

The American Federation of Lecturers wished to push for reopening colleges earlier, however couldn’t due to then-President Donald Trump, each Weingarten and Democrats on the aubcommittee stated. 

Weingarten additionally supplied a glimpse of how she views the academics represented by her union, referring to them as “activists who have been in colleges.”

“How did the chaos and recklessness within the Trump administration undermine your efforts to advocate for a secure, nationwide reopening of the faculties?” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., requested. 

Weingarten responded: “What basically occurred was that as a result of there was such chaos and such conflicting info, and since firstly of the pandemic so a lot of—frankly, our activists who have been in colleges had died. Individuals have been fearful.”

Along with Raskin, different Democrats on the subcommittee defended Weingarten and her union. 

“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” Rep. Kwasi Mfume, D-Md., stated at one level. “I wouldn’t need to be a witness that acquired the you-know-what smacked out of them for coming right here to testify to this group.”

Mfume apparently was speaking about Republicans on the panel.

3. ‘Edit That They Accepted’

Wenstrup requested concerning the roleof the American Federation of Lecturers in drafting CDC tips for colleges throughout the pandemic. 

“Did the AFT ever present prompt revisions to the CDC’s operational technique relating to faculty closures or reopenings?” Wenstrup requested Weingarten. “Did you counsel revisions to their operational technique? 

Wingarten replied: “What we prompt, sir, was concepts. They requested for concepts.”

Wenstrup: “Your letter to the subcommittee stated the AFT proposed a handful of edits to the operational technique. Is that proper?”

Weingarten: “What occurred was there was one specific edit that they [CDC] accepted. There have been a number of completely different concepts that we proposed.” 

4. Direct Line From AFT to CDC

Rep. Debbie Lesko, D-Ariz., inquired into how cozy Weingarten and the American Federation of Lecturers are with Walensky and different CDC brass. 

“I’m a member of Congress that sits on two committees that take care of the CDC,” stated Lesko, additionally a member of the Home Power and Commerce Committee. “I don’t have a direct quantity to Director Walensky. Do you?”

Weingarten at first delayed her reply. 

“I don’t discuss to representatives of the federal government,” Weingarten stated. 

Lesko requested once more: “Do you might have a direct quantity to Director Walensky?”

Weingarten responded with a query. 

“Do I’ve Director Walensky’s direct quantity?”

“Sure,” Lesko stated.

Weingarten lastly stated: “Sure, I’ve Director Walensky’s direct quantity.”

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