Townsend Reminds Teachers They “Are Under No Obligation” To Union “Bullies”

PHOENIX – A disturbing video, in which the head of the Arizona Education Association demands teacher participate in union activity, has caused concern and prompted Rep. Kelly Townsend to reach out to educators. Townsend reminded teachers that they “are under no obligation to engage in union activity and under no circumstance should they allow themselves to be bullied.”

In the video, Arizona Education Association (AEA) President Joe Thomas can be heard berating teachers who might hesitate to participate in the union’s protests. “So if you have people that say, ‘My God, I don’t want to walk out again, I’ll never do that again,’ you better make sure they’re in a red shirt every Wednesday,” said Thomas to fellow union organizers. “If you have people that don’t want to walk out, that don’t want to go back down to the Capitol, that don’t want to leave their classrooms, they better be on that walk out! That stand up.”

Thomas was referring to the various activities union members are currently engaging in during this legislative session. Although the union continues to threaten a shut down of schools, in another video, a union organizer advises members that a strike is not planned unless the Legislature reneges on the 5 percent planned increase.

According to Townsend, the video “makes it clear that while the legislators are trying to provide the most they can to our classrooms, union leaders are using scare tactics to intimidate lawmakers and parents into doing their political bidding.”

“I wish to encourage our teachers to come to the Legislature and speak directly with us to find a way that ensures districts are allocating the funds that we appropriated specifically intended for teacher raises,” said Townsend in a press release.

“I have been working with my colleagues to come up with benchmark funding that will encourage the districts to prioritize the classroom and teacher pay, first,” continued Townsend.

Townsend questioned the “intimidation tactics” used by Thomas. She claimed Thomas “seeks to undermine the progress we have made by making this so-called walkout an event on an international Socialist holiday. Townsend was referring to the International Worker’s Day on May 1st, declared by the international Socialist Conference in 1889.

Townsend has been a vocal critic “the Socialist overtones of the #RedForEd movement.” As an example, Townsend points to Noah Karvelis, a #RedForEd leader who attended the Socialism 2018 conference in Chicago last year and openly advocates for teacher activism in the classroom.

At a recent #RedForEd event, speakers railed against her bill, HB2032, that would disallow political activism in the classroom, saying it was not needed. However, Rep. Isela Blanc celebrated that activism does indeed happen in classrooms. Rep. Blanc stated, “I was speaking to a group of students, this activist Legislator, and I saw her and they are creating some real activism in their schools, and that’s what someone like Townsend is afraid (of).”