AFT Resolution

CHAMPIONING PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS IN THE MIDST OF A CHANGING HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

WHEREAS, nearly 16 million people work in the U.S. healthcare industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the industry will grow by 26 percent over the decade from 2012 to 2022; and

WHEREAS, healthcare delivery system reform incentivizes providers to deliver care in lower-cost settings outside of the hospital and to coordinate care between providers. These changes are resulting in the creation of new job categories related to care coordination and faster job growth in home healthcare services, the offices of health practitioners and other ambulatory settings; and

WHEREAS, the professional education and training of the healthcare workforce must adapt to the creation of new job categories and the shift of care to the ambulatory setting. Such education and training of healthcare professionals—at the outset and throughout their careers—continue to be integral to patient safety and quality of care and to the job security of healthcare professionals; and

WHEREAS, high professional standards are essential to effective recruitment and retention of skilled healthcare professionals. Studies show that high retention rates lower employee turnover costs for employers, a common problem for healthcare employers; and

WHEREAS, efforts to establish regressive standards for healthcare professionals by eliminating or impairing state-level authority to determine their own standards through policy or statute—including previous iterations of the multistate Nurse Licensure Compact—threaten to undermine established professional standards in favor of the lowest common denominator; and

WHEREAS, in order to circumvent professional standards, certain employers recruit and employ foreign-trained healthcare workers under contract. Lured with the promise of equal pay to American workers and a path to citizenship, such foreign workers instead receive significantly lower wages, no benefits, deplorable working conditions and no clear path to citizenship; and

WHEREAS, as a union of professionals, such deplorable treatment of foreign-trained healthcare workers undercuts established professional standards and represents imposition of unconscionable contractual terms on these workers:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will encourage and support affiliates seeking to address emerging workforce issues, including efforts to negotiate for workforce development and training funds and programs to upgrade the skills of AFT members in order to fill newly created positions and enhance their job security; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will develop and distribute educational materials for affiliates in order to maintain membership in the face of challenges to the scope of the bargaining unit resulting from the creation of new job categories and the shift to the ambulatory setting; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to oppose efforts to undermine the professional licensure and ethical standards of our members; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will address through research, education and advocacy the deplorable conditions under which foreign-trained healthcare workers enter healthcare professions in the United States. This work will seek to ensure both the dignity of foreign-trained workers and high professional standards; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will join the national effort and support affiliates at the state level advancing a living wage for all healthcare workers, including efforts to establish a minimum wage of $15 per hour in the healthcare sector and throughout the economy at large.

(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.