The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.5 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide.
Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT’s membership: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members.
The AFT is governed by its elected officers and by delegates to the union’s biennial convention, which sets union policy. Elected leaders are Randi Weingarten, president; Antonia Cortese, secretary-treasurer; Lorretta Johnson, executive vice president; and a 43-member executive council.
Many well-known Americans have been AFT members, including John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Hubert Humphrey, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, former Senate Majority Leader and Ambassador to Japan Mike Mansfield, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and former United Nations Under-Secretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche.