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Hear them out

New York Teacher

The UFT invited former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden to speak at Teacher Union Day on Oct. 20. In May, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has who has since dropped out of the race, addressed the UFT Spring Education Conference.

Neither invitation should be perceived as a nod of support — our presidential endorsement process is just beginning. It’s all part of the strategy articulated by the American Federation of Teachers, our parent union, to give members a chance to hear the candidates make their case for the presidency. The UFT has extended invitations to other candidates as well.

The AFT has held town halls across the country featuring Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Julian Castro, the former housing secretary. These forums have allowed members, including retirees, to see and evaluate the candidates. Thankfully, we have a strong field of candidates to choose from.

The 2020 presidential election marks a critical turning point in the life of the nation. Our concerns as a union are clear: We need to know where the candidates stand on education policy and labor issues. And just as important, we need to assess which candidate has the best chance of being elected.

As the process unfolds in the coming months, a lot will change, another reason not to make an early endorsement. The field of candidates will continue to narrow. And there are unknown factors to take into
account including the impeachment inquiry, developments in Syria and fluctuations in the economy.

Next year, the AFT will make an endorsement, which will amount to a recommendation to our members, who, of course, make up their own minds as citizens who enter the voting booth with their own opinions and beliefs.

Most of all, we hope you’ll stay engaged in what promises to be a historic presidential election season.