AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the bedrock belief that equality, social justice and civil rights are human rights not to be restricted or denied has been a foundation of our union throughout our 100 years and will never waiver. As early as 1918, the AFT demanded equal pay for African-American teachers and lobbied for equal educational opportunities for African-American children. In 1948, we ceased to grant charters to segregated locals, and in 1956, we expelled all segregated locals from the AFT—even though it meant losing 14 percent of our members. In1953, the AFT filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the only union and only education organization to do so. Hundreds of AFT members traveled South in the 1960s to register new African-American voters and to teach in AFT-run Freedom Schools for decades. The AFT has championed anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community, including negotiating the first domestic partner benefits in New York in 1993, culminating with winning legal recognition of marriage equality; and

WHEREAS, the AFT has a long-standing role in advancing racial justice and equity; and

WHEREAS, there is a rich international history of civil disobedience, including the Cape Town Peace March, Tiananmen Square protests, the Silent Sentinels, the Selma Voting Rights Movement, 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and the #Not1More immigration actions that exposed injustice and mistreatment and led to progress; and

WHEREAS, because black men and boys are persistently denied equal access to educational and economic opportunity, the AFT, under the leadership of Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, convened a Racial Equity Task Force that issued a ground-breaking racial equity statement to guide our union’s work and honor the mission of the Movement for Black Lives; and

WHEREAS, the AFT also brought together a Criminal Justice and Public Safety Task Force, which includes AFT members who work in our communities and in the criminal justice system, to raise issues of mutual concern and offer solutions to ensure fair and equal treatment in the criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, AFT President Randi Weingarten convened these task forces to help shape and lead a unionwide progressive, constructive conversation on race, criminal justice, safety and community for our union and those we are honored to serve in education, healthcare and public services to ensure that the community and law enforcement begin to respectfully collaborate and reach mutual understanding; and

WHEREAS, every life lost to violence makes our country and our world poorer; and

WHEREAS, the recent police-involved shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn., remind us that we have much work left to do in the fight for equal treatment, equal opportunity and safety on the streets for all, regardless of race. We must redouble the work of dismantling the systemic bias and structural racism that lead to far too much pain and suffering; and

WHEREAS, public safety employees must feel safe and supported in order to fulfill the promise of a peaceful community for all Americans; and

WHEREAS, every person must have a chance to live a full, peaceful life, and we must continue our efforts to build this nation into one where all are treated equitably and given equal opportunity; and

WHEREAS, the AFT supports all police officers who perform the duty of serving us daily in the name of public safety; and

WHEREAS, the prevalence of guns on our streets and in our communities makes it more likely that these tragedies will continue. There were 52,000 incidents of gun violence in the United States in 2015 alone. It is past time for action against our national epidemic of gun violence. Our members—who are entrusted with the safety and care of our communities and our children—see the impact of gun violence every day. We must find the political courage to address the issue of gun violence through policy change:  

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers advocate for community policing to improve public safety in our communities through collaborative efforts that engage citizens; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT support movements that expose injustice and mistreatment by employing civil disobedience in the tradition of great civil, human and women’s rights work, such as the Movement for Black Lives and similar initiatives; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT advocate for independent investigative authority to ensure due process; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates support the work we do to ensure equity in our classrooms, schools, hospitals and clinics, campuses and community; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates collectively address these challenges on a much deeper level by implementing a comprehensive unionwide training program on crisis intervention techniques and interacting with people of diverse backgrounds; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT design and implement a program to prevent and address bias-based harassment in our schools and workplaces, including training in human relations interventions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will promote public safety worker wellness through physical, social and mental health supports in our communities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will collaborate with unions representing police and public safety officers in the law enforcement community to advocate for fair policing through greater transparency and accountability, which will lead to safer communities; and

RESOLVED, that we commit to continuing our work with the Racial Equity and Criminal Justice and Public Safety Task Forces and fulfill the recommendations of educational justice, economic justice and criminal justice included in the Racial Equity Report; and

RESOLVED, that we will work with all AFT constituencies and organizations to reclaim the promise of racial equity and justice in all of our communities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support and promote the March and Rally in Washington, D.C., in August 2016.