AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reports that 25,000 public schools are in need of extensive repair or replacement and that 67 percent of central city schools have at least one building feature in need of repair or replacement; and   


WHEREAS, K-12 schools need a minimum of $112 billion to bring existing buildings into conformity with the minimum building standards; and


WHEREAS, the amount does not cover the cost of new construction needed to accommodate a growing student population not expected to plateau until 2009; and


WHEREAS, schools currently spend more money every year on energy and utility costs exceeding the combined cost of supplies and books; and  


WHEREAS, most of the nation's 9,800 postsecondary colleges and universities are coping with aging facilities as they are experiencing increasing enrollment demands, particularly community colleges whose enrollment has severely strained the capacity of existing facilities; and  


WHEREAS, APPA and NACUBO have found "pervasive underfunding of existing facility maintenance and operation" and estimate that there is at a minimum $26 billion dollars in deferred maintenance in postsecondary institutions that has occurred over the last 30 years; and   


WHEREAS, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established that education employees in K-12 schools and higher education institutions have higher rates of asthma compared to the general working population and that  asthma among children in urban areas is at an all-time high (nearly one in 13 school-age children has asthma); and


WHEREAS, correlation studies show a strong positive relationship between overall building conditions and student achievement; and


WHEREAS, studies have repeatedly found a difference of 5-17 percentile points between achievement of students in poor buildings and those in environmentally adequate buildings when the socioeconomic status of students is controlled; and


WHEREAS, research indicates a negative impact upon student performance in buildings where deficiencies in temperature, lighting, ventilation and acoustics have been identified, and teachers and faculty report that physical improvements greatly enhance the teaching environment; and


WHEREAS, nothing short of a "Marshall Plan" for public education institutions can insure a learning environment that sustains and promotes quality learning:


RESOLVED, that the AFT actively promote the development of model federal and state legislative and regulatory proposals that accelerate the implementation of effective operations and maintenance programs for existing and new buildings and equipment and emergency preparedness programs; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT actively promote and support federal initiatives that provide resources and incentives to public schools, colleges and universities to significantly improve environmental conditions in adherence with sound, "high-performance" building design standards that are cost effective to operate and maintain; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT routinely inform and update AFT leadership at every level on critical health and safety issues in our institutions and the resulting policy implications; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT integrate environmental and occupational health and safety training into AFT regional and national conferences, divisional conferences and courses offered by the Union Leadership Institute; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT train organizers and national representatives on health and safety issues relevant to the membership and incorporate health and safety issues into organizing and mobilizing campaigns as appropriate; and


RESOLVED, that AFT prepare and model health and safety contract language for distribution to local leadership; and


RESOLVED, that AFT maintain an active health and safety electronic network and Web site that offers information and training on a variety of issues; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT actively promote further research on the implications of exposure to environmental and occupational hazards on the health and well-being of members and persons in the institutions we serve; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT develop educational materials for its leadership and members about promising models for new school construction as well as renovation projects, operations and maintenance, and indoor environmental quality in schools and public education institutions; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to work with affiliates and other workers to petition the federal government to provide OSHA coverage for all public workers; and


RESOLVED, to support the work of affiliates in their efforts to obtain Workers' Compensation coverage for all public workers.