Union Highlights: Defending Our Priorities

delegates at the 2022 AFT Convention in Boston

More than 3,000 delegates attended the July 2022 AFT convention and passed dozens of resolutions on a range of issues aimed at defending our democracy, fighting for equitable and safe communities, addressing the promise of public education, tackling the student debt crisis, and creating the working conditions our members and communities need to thrive.

In Defense of Our Democracy and Freedoms

Four resolutions highlight the AFT’s deep concern about the state of democracy in the US and efforts to sow disinformation, undermine voting rights, and strip citizens’ freedoms. The Political Action/Legislation Committee brought a resolution to support democratic candidates and issues and dedicate resources to voter registration efforts in the 2022 and 2024 elections. Another resolution calls for protecting children by ending the social media optimization that catalyzes the spread of disinformation. The Women’s Rights Committee brought a resolution demanding protection of reproductive freedom and comprehensive reproductive healthcare. And a special order of business called for the condemnation of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions attacking our freedoms and rights. 

Condemning Hate and Supporting Human Rights

Five resolutions support the rights of all people and outline the AFT’s opposition to racial and gender bias and discrimination. The Public Services Committee’s resolutions support legislation and initiatives to hold the federal government accountable for the trauma caused by Indian boarding school policies. The Human Rights and International Relations Committee brought resolutions condemning racially motivated crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, emphasizing the importance of issues affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine. And a resolution from the Political Action/Legislation Committee condemns laws that exclude transgender and gender-expansive students from sports and calls for nondiscrimination policies.

Advancing Safe, Equitable Schools and Thriving Students

Seven resolutions were passed in support of initiatives that create more equitable opportunities for all students to receive an education that prepares them for success. The Educational Issues Committee brought resolutions pledging to expand the number of community schools that AFT supports from 700 to 2,500, calling for reimagined assessments that are culturally responsive and support learning, and for fulfilling the promise of public schools to empower all learners. And the Labor and the Economy Committee’s resolutions support career and technical education and the right of all children to a free and appropriate public education

The Organizing and Collective Bargaining Committee’s resolution to end the crisis of school and community violence advocates for legislation and resources to keep schools safe and support youth who have experienced trauma. The Schools and Colleges Support Staff Issues Committee focused on meeting students’ needs by advocating for school meals for all. And through a special order of business, delegates adopted the AFT’s Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force report, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?, which addresses the critical staffing shortages facing American public schools. 

Supporting Higher Education

Higher education is an essential public good, but decades of disinvestment and attacks on academic freedom have left students and faculty in precarious positions. Delegates passed three resolutions from the Higher Education Committee: fighting for higher education, including defending institutions’ missions, protecting academic freedom, and addressing the staffing and affordability crises; calling on the US Department of Education to investigate contingent faculty compensation; and supporting the expansion of FAST Funds so more students have access to emergency aid. 

Addressing Challenges for Healthcare Professionals

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound physical, mental, and emotional impact on the nation’s healthcare workforce and has exacerbated challenges in staffing and working conditions that must be addressed. Three resolutions from the RNs/Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Access/Quality Committee were passed outlining the AFT’s commitment to tackling the staffing crisis; preventing violence and supporting healthcare workers’ mental health; and enhancing professional development, mentoring, and emotional support for nurses

Creating the Conditions Workers and Communities Need

Finally, ten resolutions were passed to address the working and living conditions of AFT members and their communities. The Organizing and Collective Bargaining Committee brought two resolutions supporting the PRO Act to protect the right to organize and establishing affiliates’ health and safety committees to improve conditions for all workers and the communities they serve. Resolutions from the Schools and Colleges Support Staff Issues Committee address fighting for living wages and increasing workplace safety, and the Public Services Committee’s worker-focused resolutions support workers in the digital age and workers experiencing homelessness.

Four of these resolutions specifically address opportunities to fight climate change and increase equity and community health in retirement. The Political Action/Legislation Committee’s resolution urges workers’ retirement funds to divest from fossil fuels and invest in projects that benefit society and the climate. Resolutions from the Retirement Committee support legislative efforts to repeal provisions that limit access to Social Security benefits; to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on pension boards and among pension asset managers; and to identify and develop climate-friendly and green investment opportunities for members’ pension funds.

Read all the new resolutions here, and for more on the 2022 convention, including daily summaries, see here.

American Educator, Fall 2022