Calling on the AFT to support the Texas teacher fired for refusing to sign a pledge to give up her boycott rights

January 5, 2019

@TexasAFT @rweingarten @aftunion

To the Officers and Members of the American Federation of Teachers:

I’m a retired schoolteacher from Connecticut, 40 years teaching high and middle schools, AFT since 1969, now in a New Haven local (retired). I’ve been reading about the firing of Bahia Amawi in the Pflugerville Independent School District in Texas. I’m surprised to see nothing about the situation on the AFT website.

It’s outrageous that the state of Texas thinks it can tell residents of the state what to say and do about foreign affairs. Amawi, in taking a position in favor of Palestinian rights, refuses to sign a pledge to her employer promising not to boycott Israeli products (BDS). Some justify Amawi’s firing by saying support for BDS is hatred of Jews. That is false. In her statement about the Rutgers situation last October AFT President Weingarten made it clear that it is wrong to “equate advocacy for Palestinians with anti-Semitism.”

I was head of my local teacher union in West Haven, CT in the 1970’s. We took part in boycotts when places went on strike or when workers couldn’t strike and asked for help. It’s an age-old and effective tactic. Letting any unit of government diminish those rights is a direct blow to labor.

I understand that Amawi is not a regular employee of the school district, technically a contractor. That shouldn’t matter. If Governor Abbott is successful in getting his way here there’s little to stop him from demanding this “pledge” from every teacher in Texas.

I hope the AFT and its Texas affiliate will stand in support of Amawi, that it will educate members on the issue, make public statements about her right to buy or not buy Israeli products and her free speech rights and will contribute to her lawsuit.

I’ve written an article on this matter on the site of the magazine New Politics.

Stanley Heller
Executive Director
Middle East Crisis Committee
Woodbridge, Connecticut

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