AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, public employees in diverse agencies, institutions and occupations share the elevated risk of working in buildings that are unsafe and unhealthy due to chronic poor air quality. These conditions too often lead to dangerous exposures and varying levels of employee sickness and lost work time; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008 the rate of work-related respiratory conditions in state government workers was 5.2 per 10,000 FTEs compared to 1.6 in private industry; and

WHEREAS, there is no national standard or requirements for the maintenance of healthy indoor air quality and very few state or local standards or requirements for remediating problem environments or maintaining indoor air quality; and

WHEREAS, public employers, school districts and healthcare institutions often build or lease buildings with little regard for best practices, environmental systems or construction materials that help to maintain the best possible indoor air quality for those required to work, learn, live and play in these buildings; and

WHEREAS, the delivery of quality government programs, health services and education to the public also depends upon the health and well-being of the employees who provide these services; and

WHEREAS, policymakers and administrators have too often ignored the pleas of sick employees required to work in unsafe and unhealthy buildings and are able to do so with impunity; and

WHEREAS, all public employees deserve to work in a safe and clean environment with clean air; and

WHEREAS, the current economic recession has resulted in cuts to preventive maintenance budgets; and

WHEREAS, better services to the public, at lower cost, can be established through greater attention to the establishment and maintenance of higher standards of indoor air quality; and

WHEREAS, Congress is proposing programs for funding the retrofit of publicly owned and operated buildings to promote improved energy efficiency. These programs also present an opportunity to dramatically improve the air quality for workers and occupants:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support the establishment of enforceable indoor air quality standards for all workplace buildings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with state and local affiliates to educate our members about the dangers of unsafe conditions that lead to unhealthy indoor air quality; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other federal agencies such as the Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop programs and standards to help improve the maintenance of healthy indoor air quality in all workplace buildings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with policymakers at every level of government to develop meaningful workplace standards for indoor air quality to protect employees and the public who use these buildings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with its affiliates to develop legislative solutions and political action programs that organize employees around the issue of improving indoor air quality; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT advocate for current and future federal energy legislation that includes ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) programs that promote occupancy health as well as energy efficiency as a condition of federal grants and loans to state and local governments for major retrofits and renovations.