The second-largest teacher’s labor union in the U.S. is apparently using Meghan Markle to promote the power of unions amid a fight to reopen schools during the pandemic.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Monday used a quote from the Duchess of Sussex during her and Prince Harry‘s highly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey Sunday to push the power of unions.
“In my old job there was a union, and they would protect me,” the AFT quoted Markle as saying during the interview.
Markle got onto the topic of unions after remarking how she had suicidal thoughts amid nonstop tabloid coverage during her adjustment to royal life.
She said she tried to seek help through the palace’s human resources department, but was allegedly told by a “senior” member of the institution that her receiving mental health care would reflect poorly on the family.
“And so I went to human resources, and I said, ‘I just really need help,” Markle said in the interview. “Because in my old job there was a union, and they would protect me.’ And I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said, ‘My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.'”
Teachers’ unions have played a major role in blocking or delaying schools from reopening. In Los Angeles, UTLA members voted overwhelmingly to reject what the union called an “unsafe” return to the classroom unless certain demands are met, according to Los Angeles Teachers union President Cecily Myart-Cruz on Friday.
Markle, however, was referring to SAG-AFTRA, a labor union of which she was a member during her time as an actor, reports said.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex leaves after attending the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
“We are still here for you, Meghan. Everyone deserves the protection of a union,” SAG-AFTRA wrote on Twitter Sunday.
Other unions latched on to Markle’s comments.
“Meghan Markle knows that when working people join together, we have the power to create a better life for ourselves and our families!” wrote Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on Facebook, which represents almost 1.9 million workers in the U.S. and Canada.
“The Duchess is right: a union protects your safety, dignity, and wellbeing on the job,” John Weber, a spokesperson for AFL-CIO, said in a statement to Business Insider. “Everyone deserves the protections that come with a union card — and by passing the PRO Act, Congress can ensure more Americans have the freedom to carry that power in their pocket every day.”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).