AFT Resolution

ADVANCING OUR PROFESSIONALISM

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness, democracy, economic opportunity and high-quality public education, higher education, healthcare and public services; and

WHEREAS, professionals are prepared, are knowledgeable and should be trusted to use their judgment and have authority and voice over their professions and autonomy in their daily work, and professionals collaborate with and learn from their peers and from their larger professional community; and

WHEREAS, professionals set standards for their work, always have the necessary knowledge and tools to do their jobs, work in supportive environments that promote their continuous learning, and are treated with dignity and respect by peers, supervisors and the broader public, including the media; and 

WHEREAS, there is evidence that peer learning improves the places where professionals work, by leveraging their expertise and creating a climate of trust that increases employee satisfaction and knowledge; and

WHEREAS, our work and its importance to the well-being of our country and communities is diminished by those who would starve the public sector, hold wages hostage (as happened in the Detroit Public Schools district), devalue professional experience and public employees, and turn to outside “experts” who may be dangerously ignorant of our work, all of which deprofessionalizes our jobs and erodes the vital services we provide; and

WHEREAS, the devaluation and deprofessionalization of our members’ work and the work of our communities is deeply rooted in the racism, sexism, classism and other institutional forces affecting those we serve; and 

WHEREAS, the AFT was founded 100 years ago as a “consciously feminist” movement that challenged administrators to give teachers more control over their working conditions, secure professional salaries and win academic freedom:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers and our affiliates will fulfill our mission as unions of professionals by advocating for the professional needs of our members with the same intensity we advocate for other terms and conditions of employments, such as compensation and wages; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will campaign for state, municipal and district legislation and regulation, contract language and community initiatives that recognize members’ increased authority and voice over their professions, autonomy in their daily work, and access to necessary supports and workplace conditions that enable their success, including tools and opportunities to acquire and refine the knowledge they need to master their jobs and improve their fields; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will expect and work to achieve genuine two-way communication and meaningful knowledge-sharing systems at work, effective systems for recruiting employees, supports for the professional needs of employees through every stage of their careers, and strategies to retain experienced employees that value and leverage their experience; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage and support authentic and relevant peer to peer learning (for example, through the establishment of peer/collegial networks) as vehicles for professional growth and worker voice and as a means to improve the quality of services our members provide; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT will develop and disseminate workplace supports, processes and tools that sustain workers’ professional development, and will advocate that these be available to our members in their workplaces; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to defend our affiliates facing attacks on our members’ professionalism by those in power who seek to weaken public services and the communities where our members serve; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its affiliates will develop a program for strategic outreach to pre-service and potential members for the purpose of educating, organizing and mobilizing future educators, educational support staff, nurses and public employees; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will expect and work to ensure the full inclusion of all personnel, regardless of their job classification, in the development of contracts and policies affecting their work and their professions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will create a platform to amplify our members’ professional voices using all forms of new media, community recognition events, and other opportunities to engage and educate the public about the work our members do; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will confront the existence of prejudice (based on race, gender, religion, social class, sexual orientation and other institutional biases) in our institutions and our interactions with those we serve, and will work to eliminate them by fighting to destroy inequities in all aspects of our work, including work agreements, contracts and even our own definitions of professionalism within and beyond our union; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will call for an end to the exploitation of our members, especially those who work part time and those who work as support personnel, and will expect fair wages and equitable treatment in work agreements and policies; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage affiliates to have representation at the state affiliate level for all constituencies with the purpose of creating communication systems that strengthen our joint advocacy for all of our members’ professional needs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates, working with allies in the labor community and the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, will lead the efforts of aligning our work and shaping it to meet the needs of those whom we serve, the workforce and communities of the future.

(2016)

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.