Wednesday, May 29, 2024

"Providence Teachers Join AFL Alliance", 1947

Part I: A Teachers Union is Born on January 31, 1947

By Daniel Wall

On January 31, 1947 a small group of Providence public school teachers were granted a charter from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and a union was born. The Providence Teachers Union, then known as the Providence Teachers Alliance, officially joined the AFT and united with unions from North Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick and Woonsocket, to form the Rhode Island branch of the American Federation of Teachers. Within a year, Providence Teachers Alliance members would draft and adopt their first constitution. The words of the document’s preamble reflect both solidarity and empowerment. “We, the teachers in the Providence Public Schools, having organized ourselves as a labor union to utilize fully our combined strength in the cause of public education and to provide adequate, fearless representation of our viewpoint and interests do adopt and subscribe to this constitution, its by-laws, and rules of order .” The document defines and details the new union’s mission, objectives and procedural guidelines. The ratification of this document by the Providence teachers marked a philosophical change. Teachers would no longer have to pander and plead to have their needs recognized. Through collective action, they could negotiate with their employers as equals. Show/Hide More

Works Cited

Gaffney, D. (2007). Teachers United. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Kahlenberg, R. (2007). Tough Liberal. New York: Columbia University Press.
McElroy, E. (1999, April 5). From Individual Begging to Collective Bargaining . (S. Holtzman, Interviewer)
Murphy, M. (1990). Blackboard Unions. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Providence Teachers Join AFL Alliance. (1947, February 4). Providence Journal, pp. 1,6.