Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), is in Poland today to see firsthand the work being done to support refugee women and children from Ukraine. Weingarten was invited by the Polish teachers union, ZNP, and she will meet with refugee teachers and students from Ukraine and educators and health care workers from Poland. Weingarten is visiting Polish classrooms that have taken in students from Ukraine, and meeting with Ukrainian refugee teachers in Poland who are connecting remotely with their students who remain in Ukraine or who are living outside of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.
Through the AFT's partnership with First Book, Weingarten is delivering children’s books and language-appropriate educational materials to the Polish schools that are integrating Ukrainian teachers and students. The AFT has raised $100,000 to send to ZNP, the Ukrainian teachers union VPONU, and other humanitarian and labor groups. The priorities for these funds will be to help the ZNP union that is housing refugee children who crossed the border without parents, integrating Ukrainian children into Polish schools and supporting the needs of Ukrainian teachers and students still in Ukraine.
“We stand in solidarity with our fellow educators and healthcare workers in the Ukrainian and Polish labor movement; with the educators, students and families across the border in Ukraine; and with their democratic government in this moment of their trial and need,” Weingarten said. “Our visit will shine a light, not only on the impact of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war, but on the persistence, compassion and bravery of the teachers dedicated to protecting and helping their kids learn amid Russia’s heinous attack, wherever they might be in the region.”