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President Joe Biden calls himself a “union guy” to describe his support for workers, but his wife Jill Biden is the one who holds the membership card.

“Dr. B,” as her students at Northern Virginia Community College know her, belongs to the 3-million-member National Education Association, the nation’s largest union.

Along with being the first president’s wife to continue her professional career while at the White House, she’s also among just a few first ladies to be union members, following Eleanor Roosevelt and Nancy Reagan.

It’s a distinction that’s not only historic but fully in line with the administration’s pro-union stance. It’s also a big lift to teachers unions that had a rough start with the Obama administration and then spent the past four years locked in battle after battle with the Trump administration. 

“She helps create the environment that, we’re working together on very complex and tough problems,” Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, told Insider. “She creates trust.”

For union members, it’s encouraging to have someone in the White House who understands their struggles. Biden, who has a doctorate in educational leadership, has taught for more than three decades at high schools, an adolescent psychiatric hospital, and community colleges. 

Unions constantly battled with former President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over policies teachers believed would dismantle public education and make schools unsafe during a pandemic. DeVos accused unions of protecting their jobs over the needs of students.

“With Dr. Jill, we have one of us fighting for our kids and for our schools,” NEA President Becky Pringle, said during a fundraiser with Biden in October.

The White House has already been dispatching the first lady to schools as it works to reopen education institutions after months of remote learning and tensions between teachers unions and …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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