The AFT, the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are working together to provide support and resources to the Orlando community in the wake of June 12's horrific shooting.
The unions have joined forces to offer counseling to members and their families who have been affected, assemble resources for parents and teachers to help children understand the news, and point supporters toward blood donation and targeted fundraising efforts. The union leaders released the following statements on June 14.
AFT President Randi Weingarten: "AFT members, including teachers, school staff, social workers and nurses, are on the front lines when our communities are traumatized by violence. We are committed to supporting our members; our students, patients and their families; and communities in Florida and around the country, as we grapple with this horrible act of hatred. We're working with our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, along with the NEA, SEIU and AFSCME, to coordinate support and resources for the Orlando community and for educators nationwide during this time of crisis. It is clear that this was an act of hatred perpetrated against the LGBT community. We will work not just to support one another, but to educate and foster acceptance and love so we can prevent hate-based crimes through understanding. Let us all find the moral courage to use this tragedy to build bridges and open our hearts, not to build walls and further hatred."
Visit the AFT's www.sharemylesson.com/orlando to find resources for talking to kids about the Orlando attack.
FEA President Joanne McCall, who is an AFT vice president: "Our hearts go out to the victims of another senseless mass shooting. We send our prayers to the victims and their families and friends and for the entire community of Orlando. We pray for an end to these all-too-familiar acts of violence. As educators, we know that violence has no place in our society."
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “Orlando, we are holding you in love. In a thousand ways, we will turn our powerful love into powerful actions and stand against the hate that was unleashed against you. NEA is united with its affiliate the Florida Education Association and educators across this country in embracing you with prayers and support. Even in the face of such hatred and violence we will never lose hope that love conquers hate.”
Visit www.nea.org/orlando to find resources and opportunities to support the victims of the Orlando attack.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry: "We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in labor and in the progressive community to help communities across this country heal and recover. Together, we demand that our nation does everything to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again. It's long past time for our nation to do something about gun violence in our communities. SEIU renews the commitment of our 2 million members to use every ounce of our energy to unite and fight to end this senseless gun violence and build a better future for all families."
AFSCME President Lee Saunders: "Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the mass shooting in Orlando, the largest atrocity of this kind in U.S. history. We thank the first responders on the scene and those around the country who never quit on their communities, especially when the unthinkable happens.
"Public service workers are steadfast in our commitment to confront the bigotry behind this attack on the LGBT community. We renew our promise to defeat this kind of hatred with the compassion we bring to our jobs every day."