AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, well-funded public schools and public services are the foundation of vibrant, safe and healthy communities for all; and

WHEREAS, some sectors of the U.S. economy have steadily recovered since the Great Recession, but the real winners have been the wealthiest Americans, while investment in public services has lagged and wages have stagnated, hollowing out the middle class; and

WHEREAS, the lack of investment as well as opposition to tax cuts for the rich have ignited worker activism across the country in traditionally conservative states; and

WHEREAS, polling shows that 65 percent of voters are more likely to vote for candidates who oppose the $2.2 trillion price tag for a tax law that gives 83 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent and significantly less money for education, infrastructure and help with healthcare costs; and

WHEREAS, the problems of austerity have been confounded by choices the current administration and many states have made that provide tax cuts for the rich at the expense of public investment (such as the Trump tax cuts and those in Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia) while teachers in those states earn more than 20 percent less than other college graduates and often have to take additional jobs to make ends meet; and

WHEREAS, too often, officials take from one needed service to pay for another; the solution to cover the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion increase to the deficit and reduced state funding is not to cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; and

WHEREAS, in 2015, 29 states still provided less overall funding to public schools than they did prior to the recession; and

WHEREAS, there are 110,000 fewer workers employed by state government this year than in 2008, despite the fact that state workers have to serve more than 20 million additional people in 2018; and

WHEREAS, enrollment in U.S. public schools has risen by more than 1.25 million since 2008, but there are 175,000 fewer educators and support staff working in schools today than there were in that year; and

WHEREAS, as of 2017, there were 44 states that still provided less overall state support to public institutions of higher education than they did prior to the recession; and

WHEREAS, 70 percent of faculty in higher education now work on a contingent basis, too often earning less than a living wage at a time when tuition for public higher education has risen by an average of 35 percent since 2008, and the toll of outstanding student debt now stands at more than $1.3 trillion; and

WHEREAS, this lack of investment in our colleges and universities has put faculty, staff and their families at economic risk and jeopardized their ability to pursue their goals in higher education; and

WHEREAS, the continued diversion of public dollars to private K-12 schools, unregulated charter schools and for-profit colleges worsens these conditions because, as a growing body of research from Moody’s and others shows, a system of public schools cannot sustain the loss of revenue from students who leave without undermining the ability to provide services for the students who remain; and

WHEREAS, the intentional and systematic disinvestment created by these policies has starved our public schools and public services of the resources they need and has threatened the ability of those who work in the schools to provide for their families, made worse by the fact that wages have actually decreased as a result of wage stagnation, while pension and healthcare benefits have been eroded due to austerity; and

WHEREAS, austerity has harmed our healthcare system, contributing to nurse shortages, efforts to impose cruel work requirements for Medicaid recipients, and a rise in the number of uninsured; and

WHEREAS, these choices have ignited worker activism across the country—in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia, for example—where educators have walked off the job in order to defend students, communities and their families from the impact of these policies; and

WHEREAS, these demonstrations against austerity are leading to a growing awareness and appetite in the public that something must be done to combat the choices by states and the federal government to lavish tax cuts on the rich rather then invest in people, including combating the Trump tax law:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will double down on our fight against austerity by investigating legislative, policy and grass-roots solutions to increase investment in public services, including the identification of new revenue streams; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work to channel the activism we are witnessing across the country in this moment into a movement for enduring change by electing pro-public education, pro-worker candidates in November; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work to educate our members and the communities we serve on these issues in order to elect officials who will address the lack of investment in public education and public services; and ensure that public education, public services and healthcare have the resources needed to provide working people access to higher education, a good quality of life and a dignified retirement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support this work by creating an annual report card which will provide data, analyses and policy frameworks that will support our affiliates in their advocacy, demonstrations and activism to hold states accountable; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will pursue partnerships with national organizations and facilitate partnerships among affiliates with local and state organizations that share the goal of increased public investment in public services; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with all constituencies to educate our members, and the communities we serve, about the dire status of our local and national infrastructure and the critical need to increase funding in order to have a world-class U.S. infrastructure; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will continue to work to advance programs and policies at the federal, state, local and institutional levels to adequately fund all public services without compromising other services.