AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, higher education, particularly through our minority-serving institutions, our community colleges, and our public colleges and universities, is a public good that serves as a pathway to individual improvement, civic and democratic health, and economic growth; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers has committed to making higher education accessible to all students, regardless of ability to pay; to fighting for good jobs for both the instructional and non-instructional higher education workforces; and to ensuring the highest standards of education and research by protecting academic freedom and bolstering shared governance; and

WHEREAS, decades-long trends that have made college less affordable and accessible to students while simultaneously making careers in higher education more precarious and unstainable have been exacerbated and compounded by the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic to enrollments, instruction, and student and worker health and safety; and

WHEREAS, the bedrock institutions of academic integrity—tenure, academic freedom and shared governance—are under assault from hostile state legislatures, partisan media, political extremists, and even by university administrators themselves in an attempt to bend the academy’s public mission to private will; and

WHEREAS, these same forces that erode academic integrity are also attacking the measures taken by colleges and universities to ensure that the public goods provided by higher education are equitably available to and inclusive of the diversity of lived experiences in the communities these institutions serve; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of workers who make up the higher education instructional workforce continue to labor with little meaningful job security or protections for academic freedom, inequitable compensation for the work they do, and no voice in shared governance; and

WHEREAS, professional and administrative staff who support students, faculty and their communities are often under-recognized for their contribution to the success of their institutions and have little to no job security and less voice in decision-making on matters that impact their work and communities, and are considered disposable when adverse conditions are projected; and

WHEREAS, there is a 50-year trend of public disinvestment in our public colleges and universities, taking us from the post-World War II moment of public support for universal access to our current time when the burden of costs have been shifted onto students via higher tuition and fees, and the higher education workforce is experiencing flat income growth and decreased security; and

WHEREAS, the transfer of costs to students has created an unstainable legacy of student debt that caused economic and emotional hardships to millions of borrowers; and

WHEREAS, the increased tuition and fees that students are paying are being misdirected to management executives, stadiums and other non instructional purposes:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will vigorously defend the public mission of the United States’ minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and public colleges and universities, to ensure that its benefits are accessible to and inclusive of the diverse communities of our nation; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will fight alongside faculty to protect academic freedom and academic integrity by repelling legislative incursions on academic freedom and supporting affiliates’ efforts through collective bargaining and other means to reinvigorate shared governance; extending protections, including meaningful job security, to the majority of higher education instructors who are not tenured nor on the tenure track; advocating for equity pay and benefits for part-time/adjunct faculty; and keeping college campuses safe and welcoming environments for the free exchange of ideas; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will fight for good, sustainable higher education careers, be they instructional or noninstructional, by continuing to organize the higher education workforce both inside and outside of the collective bargaining context; by agitating for the development and implementation of academic labor standards in state and federal policy that provide equitable treatment for all faculty and professional staff and incentivize pathways to secure full-time academic employment for those who desire it; and by engaging the union’s political power to secure the funding necessary to fairly compensate the higher education workforce and provide the resources so they can succeed in their work; and working with legislators on the state and national levels to initiate legislation that would ensure the above; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will fight to ensure that professional and administrative staff are recognized as vital and necessary partners in the mission to educate students, support faculty and research, and implement programs in the greater communities staff serve, and take steps to fully embrace their needs with broader advocacy; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will fight for higher education to be affordable and accessible to all students; cancel the student debt of all borrowers who are suffering because of the unjust way we finance higher education; and protect and expand the financial, educational and social supports that ensure a diverse range of students can access a college education and succeed.

(July 15, 2022)