AFT Resolution

BUILDING UNION POWER

WHEREAS, our union, the middle class and all working people have been under a coordinated, vicious attack for at least a generation by powerful corporate interests and the privileged wealthy who want to silence our voices in the workplace and destroy our influence on the public policies and decisions that determine the health and vitality of our families and our communities; and

WHEREAS, more and more Americans are fed up with President Donald Trump and others who follow his cynical strategy of promising policies to help the middle class but delivering the same old system that keeps our economy and our politics rigged in favor of the super-rich and corporate interests; and

WHEREAS, despite the hostile political environment and constant challenges, American Federation of Teachers members and leaders on both the local and national levels have repeatedly stood together, fought back and prevailed over those who reject our values of fairness, social justice and a voice for everyone in our American democracy:

  • We are at the forefront of the fight against austerity policies that defund public education and public services;
  • We have blocked efforts in many states (Texas, Kansas, etc.) to abolish payroll deduction of membership dues; and in states without payroll deduction, we have designed and implemented alternative methods to receive payments and make sure our local affiliates have the resources needed to provide full representation;
  • We have stood together to defeat union-busting attacks on our members’ collective bargaining rights;
  • Our affiliates, supported by the national union, have pushed aggressively through member engagement campaigns and other efforts to maintain and increase membership density—acting on our commitment to majority unionism;
  • For years, we have fought school closures and takeovers in Central Falls, R.I.; Chicago; Philadelphia; and Detroit. And now, we continue those fights—notably in Puerto Rico—that would undermine access to public education and threaten the future of neighborhoods that would be left without a public school as the anchor of community life; and
  • Our members consistently make good on our collective promise to care, to fight back and to show up—even when they get arrested for taking our fight to the streets; and

WHEREAS, in this moment, AFT members are again rising up to reclaim their piece of the American dream. Their calls for fairness, just compensation and investment in public education and the children it serves, as well as support for healthcare and public services essential to the vitality of every community, are resonating with Americans everywhere. This spring, nearly every week seemed to bring a new example of this, as activism led to teacher and support staff walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona. Our members are saying enough is enough; and

WHEREAS, these walkouts have once again proved the truth of a principle we all embrace—that when we rise up and stand together to demand that elected leaders and other powerful interests simply do what’s right and fair, our members answer that call, our neighbors and those we serve stand with us, and our community allies will join our fight; and

WHEREAS, this moment is our chance to move our ideas into action. And our ideas—the values we share—can be the catalyst that will turn this extraordinary moment into a lasting movement for change; and

WHEREAS, our history has taught us that none of us can do this alone. Our AFT rallying cry has been: We Care, We Fight, We Show Up. That’s simply a statement of our willingness to take a stand and act on it; and

WHEREAS, we do not act alone—our union is the vehicle for our activism and our actions. To have the greatest impact, our members need their local union. And our affiliates need their national union to boost their power and amplify their voices:

RESOLVED, that the activism and mobilization of our members—teachers and paraprofessionals standing up for adequate funding for public education; state and local government employees fighting for essential public services; college faculty and adjunct instructors campaigning for fair compensation, student debt relief and affordable higher education for all; and nurses and health professionals calling for safe patient care practices and access to affordable quality healthcare for all—have captured the imagination of the country, and we will continue our organizing efforts to strengthen our local and state affiliates so they may carry forward the fight to make sure the values we share are reflected in public policies and in the allocation of public resources; and

RESOLVED, that, to help sustain the effort by teachers and school staff across the country to increase support for public education, we will redouble our efforts to secure the resources and autonomy we need to help children succeed and to defeat attempts to defund and privatize our public schools; and

RESOLVED, that we will renew our commitment to majority unionism and pledge to step up our efforts to build our internal structure and strengthen our member engagement; and

RESOLVED, that, by strengthening our internal organizing structures, we will show one another—and the students, patients and communities we serve—that we have the power to help our members build better lives for their families and lift up entire communities, while securing the freedom to have a decent wage, a voice at work and clout in our politics; and

RESOLVED, that member engagement and solidarity are essential to building our power and exercising it at the bargaining table or at the ballot box—recognizing that neither members nor local affiliates can achieve their full potential acting alone, on their own; and

RESOLVED, that the national union must continue to play a central role to help locals build strength through member engagement and expand their core group of activists so that we can continue to move our ideas into action in our workplaces, in our communities, in the public policy arena and in electoral politics; and

RESOLVED, that we will defend and advance our union, public education and the right to vote, even as our billionaire opponents try to undermine these foundations of democracy—because we know these are the vehicles through which working people gain both opportunity and freedom; and

RESOLVED, that, though we know our fight will continue to be tough as we remain under constant attack—from billionaire-backed lawsuits like Janus v. AFSCME; by union-busting legislation written and paid for by the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council and politicians who do their bidding; by those willing to spend unlimited and ungodly amounts of money to divide us and drive wedges between us and the communities we serve—we remain committed to persevering and defeating our enemies through an active, growing and engaged membership who know that they ARE the union, who see themselves in the mission and advocacy of our union, and who are organized to make their voices heard; and

RESOLVED, that we are committed to sustain the solidarity and power of the national American Federation of Teachers and all of its affiliates so that through our union we will continue to accomplish together what none of us could do alone.

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.