In a statement provided by AFT, Bridge was remembered as a passionate fighter for teachers and students.
“Linda was a true legend, a giant of the Texas labor movement,” said John Patrick, Texas AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.
“Our union has lost a great leader, and I’ve lost a true friend,” said Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president. “Linda was a beloved member of the AFT family. She woke up every morning with one goal on her mind: To make sure educators had a voice—a crucial element in helping all kids succeed. There was never a mountain too high, an obstacle too great or an opponent too fierce to derail her from that goal. She’s one of a kind. We will so miss her, but I know we will all try to emulate her kind spirit, strong leadership and tireless advocacy for students, parents and communities. Our prayers are with Linda’s family today. Please know that her legacy will continue on.”
Bridges started her career in education as an elementary special education teacher in the Corpus Christi Independent School District. She was a charter member of the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers and served as president of the local union for 24 years. She became president of Texas AFT in 2005. Under her leadership, membership grew from some 48,000 members to more than 65,000.
According to a statement released by AFT-Texas, Bridges is credited for pioneering “elected consultation” method for organizing workers in “right-to-work” states. The designation allows the organization, usually formed in an election process, to formally negotiate with a district on employee wages, benefits and working conditions.
She is survived by her partner, Kay Lee.
Services are pending at this time and will be announced on the Texas AFT Web site at www.texasaft.org.