AFT Resolution

FRIEDRICHS v. CTA

WHEREAS, throughout American history, workers through their unions have provided a voice for the voiceless and have served as advocates for and agents of positive change for workers and working families everywhere; and

WHEREAS, the American labor movement has a long and storied history of solidarity, action and sacrifice that forged what has become known as the “middle class” and advanced the educational, social, and economic opportunities and rights of all Americans through its work at the bargaining table and beyond; and

WHEREAS, the labor movement has advanced the interests of our nation and its citizens by negotiating collective bargaining agreements that have advanced safety and quality standards for all, benefited their members and elevated the standard of living for all workers:

  • Health Insurance: 79 percent of unionized workers have job-provided health insurance; 49 percent of nonunionized workers have job-provided health insurance;
  • Paid Sick Leave: 83 percent of unionized workers have paid sick leave; 62 percent of nonunionized workers have paid sick leave;
  • Defined-Benefit Pensions: 76 percent of unionized workers have a defined-benefit pension plan; 16 percent of nonunionized workers have a defined-benefit pension plan;
  • Wages: Unionized workers’ median weekly earnings are $970; nonunionized workers’ median weekly earnings are $763; and
  • Standard of Living: Salaries and benefits for all workers are higher in states that are highly unionized; and

WHEREAS, by educating, engaging and mobilizing members and working families everywhere, the labor movement has a proven record of improving the professional and economic well-being of all Americans through its activism and advocacy on key issues:

  • Social Security Act (1935) provides workers with unemployment insurance, aid to dependent children, and rehabilitation for the physically disabled and protecting workers in their old age;
  • National Labor Relations Act (1935): grants unions the right to organize and requires employers to bargain collectively with workers regarding hours, wages, and other terms and conditions of employment;
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (1938): protects workers—establishing a minimum wage and the eight-hour workday, providing for overtime, and prohibiting the use of child labor in all businesses engaged in interstate commerce;
  • Civil Rights Act/Title VII (1964): prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion or gender;
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965): closes achievement gaps between students by providing each child with fair and equal opportunities, and makes extensive investments in primary and secondary education; and
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970): entitles workers to a safe workplace by requiring employers to provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards; and

WHEREAS, to build upon these major successes and to battle the scourges of income inequality, discrimination, a shrinking middle class, loss of union jobs and a declining standard of living, the labor movement works to further improve the condition of members and working families; and

WHEREAS, the labor movement, through the work and activism of rank-and-file members acting through the democratic process, continues to work to advance the American condition by expanding access to educational and economic opportunity for all, including but not limited to:

  • Increasing Educational Opportunities and Reducing Student Debt: Reduce tuition costs and debt service costs for students in higher education;
  • Paid Family Leave: Expand paid family leave for workers who require extended leaves to deal with pressing personal or family issues;
  • $15 Minimum Wage: Phase-in of the $15 minimum wage needed to meet the loss of purchasing power caused from inflation since the last minimum wage increase in 2009; and
  • Dream Act: Provides for a multiphase process for minors who are illegal immigrants to gain permanent residency; and

WHEREAS, the strength, resilience and success of the American labor movement working on behalf of its members and workers everywhere has forced its adversaries to seek the overturn of long-standing judicial precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to achieve the fundamental dismantling of the union movement once and for all; and

WHEREAS, in 1977 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that all employees who benefit from the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement—including those employees who are not members—must pay an equal portion of their “fair share” of the costs to the union related to bargaining wages, benefits and working conditions, and representing employees in grievance and other disciplinary proceedings; and

WHEREAS, the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association asked the court to overturn its own long-standing decision so that they can be “free riders”—or employees who do not pay the costs incurred by the union in negotiating the collective bargaining agreement that benefits them or the cost of representing them; and

WHEREAS, in an equally divided decision, the plaintiffs in Friedrichs were denied such requests by the U.S. Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, in addition to Friedrichs there are multiple other legal actions pending in the federal court system designed to further erode the power of trade unions to represent their members and the institutions and industries in which they work; and

WHEREAS, it is anticipated that a case involving the ability of public sector unions to collect fair share fees may come before the Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court may be presented with a case that seeks to overturn the Abood decision, thus taking away the right of the AFT and other public sector unions to collect fair share fees from non-members across the country; and

WHEREAS, the union is a proven force able to stand up to politicians and the privileged elite on behalf of workers and their families; and

WHEREAS, it is imperative that all AFT members and state and local affiliates stand with the AFT, so that we can educate our members on the importance of maintaining our solidarity and strength:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers, through its elected officers and the executive council, will use every available facility and department to ensure the continued strength, vitality and growth of the AFT and the American labor movement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to identify and publicize the myriad of benefits that the union movement provides to members and working families, as well as to our state and nation; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT, through its offices, will continue to work with every local and every member to mitigate any potential damage rendered by any potential attack against the union; and

RESOLVED, because any future nominee to the Supreme Court, if confirmed, has the potential to have a profound impact on the associational and civil liberties rights of our members and of our union, the AFT will work vigorously in support of nominees who have a history and record of supporting the rights of workers, working families and unions and will work equally as vigorously to oppose those who pose a threat to workers, working families and unions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT encourages locals to discuss and educate members on these critical issues; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT shall publicize this resolution for every state and local affiliate in the country.

(2017)

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.