AFT Slams DeVos Agenda, Passes Trove of Path-breaking Resolutions at Biennial Convention
PITTSBURGH—The American Federation of Teachers passed a bevy of key resolutions over the four days of its 85th national convention, pledging to commit to a post-Janus action plan while condemning those forces—including the Trump administration—that stand in the way of a better life for working people.
More than 3,000 delegates packed the convention floor to endorse 39 resolutions to support organizing and collective bargaining, reaffirm the AFT’s founding priorities, and plot a path forward for an engaged, active union in the wake of this year’s school shootings, teacher walkouts and the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.
Delegates struck back against the failing agenda of President Donald Trump and his beleaguered Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, resolving to “collectively fight against the president and secretary of education,” and for fully funded and safe public schools.
The AFT tackled key issues in politics, including Resolution 52, which condemned the Trump administration and Republican majorities in Congress and statehouses for “attacks on American democracy,” calling out voter suppression, political collaboration with authoritarian regimes and the stoking of racial resentments as “a cancer in the American body politic.”
In response, delegates set guiderails for federal political endorsements to help locals and state federations identify candidates that will fight for the AFT’s values, and they pledged to support the record 300 AFT members running for office around the country this cycle.
Resolution 43, “External Organizing,” highlighted the nurses, public employees, higher education workers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel that join K-12 educators in membership. It committed to the union’s ongoing work in member engagement and community involvement while “doubling down on strategic organizing opportunities.” New organizing has been a key driver of the union’s record high membership of 1.755 million.
Delegates rose up to reject rogue student loan servicer Navient, resolving to encourage states, counties and municipalities to cancel their contracts with the embattled company that faces lawsuits alleging it overcharged and defrauded borrowers.
And they reiterated support for affordable and universal healthcare while affirming the three essential elements of a secure retirement for working people—a defined-benefit pension, Social Security and savings, and an end to austerity.
The union also vowed to continue its work in rebuilding Puerto Rico, in support of the 35,000 AFT members at the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The dark forces in our country thought they were going to take us out, but our members have left this convention knowing their charge. They’ve made clear: Their union is the vehicle to a better life. When we engage our members at home, in their own communities, around the issues that are important to them—their schools, their healthcare, their safety—we make actual improvements in day-to-day life that people can feel. Members engaged in their union can accomplish together what would be impossible on our own.”
“I’m proud to join Dr. Lorretta Johnson and Mary Cathryn Ricker for another term leading this great union, and I thank the members for putting their faith in us.”
On Sunday, Weingarten was re-elected for her sixth term as AFT president, with a record percentage of the vote in her favor. She has led the union for the last decade.
The full text of all resolutions can be read here.
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.