OUR COMMITMENT TO FIGHTING BACK AND FIGHTING FORWARD
WHEREAS, working people are under attack, and many are further and further from achieving the American dream—students suffering from school budget cuts and test obsession; families left behind due to wage stagnation and retirement insecurity; and too many communities starved of high-quality public services, healthcare, neighborhood public schools, good jobs, affordable housing and transportation; and
WHEREAS, our enemy is organized—anti-union, anti-worker groups are challenging our voting, political and collective bargaining rights while anti-public education forces have made a concerted effort to undercut fairness for our students, families and communities, capitalizing on the shared frustration with the inequities in our economy and our schools to divide our communities; and
WHEREAS, as a result of the increasing success of the AFT and our labor and community allies in fending off these attacks at the bargaining table and the ballot box, in the streets and in state capitals, these forces have now moved to our courtrooms, most recently with the Vergara v. California and Harris v. Quinn lawsuits; and
WHEREAS, the proponents of the Vergara and Harris cases—groups opposed to the existence of labor unions—have made clear their intentions to copycat and expand these lawsuits in courthouses and legislatures across the country; and
WHEREAS, these decisions are contributing to an escalating and engineered imbalance in our democracy, one where corporations and the wealthy have a dominant voice; and
WHEREAS, these decisions have helped working people see that these threats are real and connect the dots between the concerted efforts to silence educators, working people and unions altogether; and
WHEREAS, every community is facing similar fights that may appear unique in each setting but are part of a national assault on the rights of working people; and
WHEREAS, while strengthening our grass-roots mobilization is essential, we must also coordinate nationally and globally—taking on those trying to polarize and deprofessionalize, to embed privatization and austerity; and
WHEREAS, members of the AFT and the communities we serve have learned to work together in our fight back as well as our fight forward, offering solutions and innovative ideas that help make a difference to students, families and communities; and
WHEREAS, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has aligned with those who have undermined public education, with those who have attacked educators who dedicate their lives to working with children, and with those who have worked to divide parents and teachers. He has failed to bring parents, students, teachers and community members together to improve the quality of public education for all children, and he has promoted misguided and ineffective policies on deprofessionalization, privatization and test obsession:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation Teachers and all of our affiliates recommit to engage our members and our communities to fight these attacks at the ballot box and the bargaining table, in the streets, Washington, D.C., and state capitals, in the courthouse and the court of public opinion, while advancing our solution-driven mission to reclaim the promise of America.
To do so:
- We will launch an earned and paid media campaign, using social media and traditional avenues, that lifts up our members and those we serve; demonstrates the importance of collective bargaining and due process to long-term educational and economic prosperity as well as our democracy; and further exposes and pushes back the coordinated effort of those who wish to silence our collective voice. Such a campaign will be aimed at showing what really needs to be done to reclaim the promise of public education and maintain public confidence in public education and public services, and in the work our healthcare and higher education affiliates do.
- We will fight for the election and appointment of policymakers who stand on the side of working people, their families and their communities; and we will hold them accountable once elected or appointed, including calling them out.
- The AFT will serve as a national clearinghouse, assisting local affiliates and communities legally and as otherwise needed to stave off these attacks.
- We will work with our state and local affiliates to develop comprehensive plans to organize, engage, empower, inspire and mobilize our members to fight back against these misguided, unfair, unwarranted and socially divisive, ideological attacks and fight forward to reclaim the promise; starting at this convention with a commitment to take the responsibility to act as individuals, as local and state affiliates and as a national organization; and continuing over the next two years with any and every action towards this end, including the redirection of resources;
- We will work with our community partners to defend and promote the interests of all working people, our students, their families and their communities—including the opportunity to join and organize a union as well as the right to a fair hearing on the job.
- In doing so, we will build a national fight, agitating, educating, organizing and mobilizing our members and communities to act at the state and local levels, to fend off these attacks and to reclaim the promise of public education, public services and of America.
RESOLVED, that the AFT today calls on the president to implement a secretary improvement plan that will be based upon standing up for public education, supporting teachers and all school workers, inspiring parents and the public to join us in creating the public schools we want and deserve, and leading with us in reclaiming the promise of public education. This improvement plan will include the following:
- Enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Each and Every Child report issued by the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Equity Commission;
- Work with us to change the NCLB/RTTT “test and punish” accountability system to a “support and improve” model; and
- Promote rather than question the teachers and school support staff of America; and
RESOLVED, that the officers of the AFT shall be directed to take whatever steps are necessary to make this case to the president and his administration; and
RESOLVED, that if Secretary Duncan does not improve, and given that he has been treated fairly and his due process rights have been upheld, the secretary of education must resign.