CDC documents show it followed union wishes, not science, in its COVID-19 masking policies

Coordination between the CDC and labor unions, including teachers’ unions, over pandemic policy guidance was deeper than originally thought. 

According to an internal calendar provided to Fox News Digital by Americans for Public Trust (APT), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky coordinated with union leaders on masking guidance far beyond what was previously reported. 

When the CDC announced on May 13, 2021 that fully vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks, the National Education Association reportedly prepared to release a statement the next day demanding clarification. 

Erika Dinkel-Smith, White House director of labor engagement, intervened, claiming in an email, reported by Fox News, to have stopped the NEA from doing so:  

“Would you know when Dr. Wolensky [sic] would be able to call NEA-Pres. Becky Pringle?” Dinkel-Smith wrote in an email. “They’ve gotten significant incoming and are getting targeted for a response from the media. I’ve gotten them to hold on their statement calling for clarification.” 

The same day, Walensky met with Pringle, after which the NEA released a statement with a softer tone. 

Walensky also had phone meetings that day with American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten; Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry; United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Marc Perrone; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Lee Saunders; and the AFL-CIO-affiliated National Nurses Union President Bonnie Castillo. 

The next day, May 15, the CDC released an update to its masking guidance, clarifying that all schools should continue to mask up, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. 

“At every turn, the CDC has told the American people that they have followed the science, but with every record we receive, we see further proof that the CDC keeps turning to teachers’ unions for guidance instead,” Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of APT, told Fox News Digital about the new revelations. 

“A supposedly science-based agency should absolutely not be consulting with union boss Randi Weingarten before making important public messaging decisions that impact the lives of children and adults alike,” Sutherland added.