The president of the American Federation of Teachers says anti-labor campaigns around the country threaten teachers' well-being and the group's "very existence as a union."
Randi Weingarten said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday morning at the AFT's national convention in Detroit that "a wave of anti-union, anti-public education initiatives" has surfaced as the U.S. struggles to overcome the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
She says that's forced teachers unions "to go on the defensive over and over again."
"Are we ready to make him care about the children?" she asked the crowd.
Weingarten says she's meeting Friday with Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts to challenge the mass layoff of teachers and the imposition of pay and benefit cuts.
The AFT represents 1.5 million teachers. It's the nation's second-largest teachers union behind the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.
Weingarten and Roberts met this afternoon. Each characterized the meeting as productive, but it was not a negotiation.