AFT Resolution

RESPECT AND DIGNITY AT WORK: ENSURING COMPREHENSIVE WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAMS FOR ALL

WHEREAS, crime is a perennial concern and a potential threat to the safety of every citizen in all U.S. communities. According to the latest statistics (2012), the rate of violent victimization is 22.6 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older;[1] and

WHEREAS, American Federation of Teachers members work in a variety of community institutions open to the public—schools, colleges, universities, healthcare facilities, and state and local public government offices and facilities; and

WHEREAS, public schools remain the safest place for our children in our communities. Rates of violent crime generally remain higher in communities than in schools. Yet, we must ensure that all schools are as safe and welcoming as they can be. In 2009, 74 percent of public schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime. There were over 597,000 non-fatal victimizations reported at public schools in 2011, up from the number of 2010 cases;[2] and

WHEREAS, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that "spectrum of workplace violence ranges from offensive language to homicide, and a reasonable working definition of workplace violence is as follows: violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty"; and

WHEREAS, the rate of workplace violence for public school teaching and education professions was 9.4 per 1,000 full-time employees compared to 2.9 for private school education employees;[3] and

WHEREAS, 10 percent of urban school teachers and staff reported being threatened with injury in 2007-08;[4] and

WHEREAS, the tragic incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., resulted in the death of 20 children and six school staff; and

WHEREAS, in 2011 government employees (federal, state and local public employees) had a rate of workplace violence that was more than three times the rate for the private sector;[5] and

WHEREAS, as a survey conducted in 2005 by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that "thirty-two percent of all State government workplaces reported some form of workplace violence [in the past 12 months]. Local government reported 15 percent of their workplaces experienced some type of workplace violence in the past 12 months while private industry reported fewer than 5 percent." The researchers concluded that "the higher reported incidence of violence in State and local government workplaces may be attributed to their work environments. These workplaces reported much higher percentages of working directly with the public, having a mobile workplace, working with unstable or violent persons, working in high crime areas, guarding valuable goods or property, and working in community based settings than did private industry"; and

WHEREAS, the rate of workplace violence for mental health workers was 87.1 per 1,000 FTEs in 2011;[6] and

WHEREAS, the rate of workplace violence for healthcare professionals in public hospitals was 22.5 per 1,000 in 2011;[7] and

WHEREAS, AFT Connecticut has spearheaded efforts to legislatively address school safety and security after the tragedy of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn.; and

WHEREAS, AFT affiliates across the country have negotiated comprehensive school safety and security contract language; and

WHEREAS, despite the best efforts of the AFT and AFT affiliates, there are still many gaps in federal, state and local mandates that would require all employers to adopt evidence-based comprehensive workplace violence and bullying prevention programs that genuinely involve workers and other stakeholders in the development and implementation:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will work to:

  • Support legislation at the local, state and federal levels to close loopholes surrounding the sale of guns, including but not limited to mandatory universal background checks for all type of sales, e.g., retail, wholesale and gun shows as well as private and Internet sales;
  • Support the creation of a national database of gun sales to track all sales and gun ownership, which is consistent with current law;
  • Support enhanced school resource officer programs for all schools and universities, as well as other types of programs that are designed to increase safety in the workplace;
  • Support legislation at the local, state and federal levels to prevent workplace violence, and will develop bullying prevention programs;
  • Support the development of a professional educational program, centered on "active threat" training similar to the lockdown procedures already in place in many school districts and universities, and encourage the expansion of these programs to include the workplaces of all AFT members; and
  • Advocate for reforms in the mental health system to include increased early intervention and access to crucial support programs; the development of policy and procedure for the identification of "an individual of concern"; and improved access to direct services when needed, so that we as a community can better reach out to citizens in need of mental health services, including post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis and intervention.


[1] Criminal Victimization (2012).Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). http://222.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4781

[2] Robers S., et al. (2013). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012{NCES 2013-036/NCJ 241446. National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education and Bureau of Justice, Statistics Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice, Washington D.C.

[3] Harrell E., Special Report: Workplace Violence Against Government Employees 1994-2011. Bureau of Justice Statistics Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

[4] Robers S., op.cit

[5] Harrell, op.cit.

[6] Harrell, op.cit.

[7] Harrell, op.cit.

 

(2014)

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.