AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the members of the American Federation of Teachers are the essence of our union, and those members exercise their rights to elect their national leaders and to consider constitutional amendments, and policy resolutions, biennially as our constitution requires through election of delegates who meet in convention; and

WHEREAS, the AFT is a national labor organization governed by Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) and elects its national leadership pursuant to the act; and

WHEREAS, since the unions founding in 1916, the AFT has a nearly unbroken record of holding our convention in person and as scheduled with two exceptions—in 1921 when the union had insufficient finances to conduct a convention and in 1945 when, during World War II, the convention was not held pursuant to President Roosevelts urging that this was no time to hold conventions”; and

WHEREAS, the 2020 AFT Convention has been scheduled to be held July 27- 30 in Houston; and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world’s public health and economies, leaving with it a devastating loss of life; a paused economy; and a continuing threat to the health, safety and economic well-being of the people we represent and the people we serve; and

WHEREAS, much of the nation is still combating this virus, and will be for an indeterminate period of time, as a vaccine is months from fruition; and

WHEREAS, many of the localities in which we serve, as well as the city of Houston and Harris County, Texas, have also adopted stay-at-home orders that remain in effect as of the date of this resolution; and

WHEREAS, the arc of the pandemic is such that communities across America, including Houston and Harris County, will still be operating on some physical distancing guidance, including among other things sheltering in place, or limiting or prohibiting the physical gathering of large numbers of delegates in one place that would be necessary to hold a traditional in-person AFT convention; and

WHEREAS, many members, in the absence of a vaccine, are concerned about their and their families’ safety and may not feel comfortable traveling; and

WHEREAS, the AFT places the highest priority on ensuring the safety and health of our members, leaders, delegates invitees and staff; and

WHEREAS, the safety and health concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic make it impossible to plan for and undertake a traditional in-person convention; and

WHEREAS, AFT affiliates, other national labor organizations, the Democratic National Committee and numerous other organizations have taken action to either postpone their conventions entirely or hold certain convention sessions virtually; and

WHEREAS, AFT members and leaders have been or have now become very familiar with participation in virtual meetings utilizing computer-based video teleconferencing; and

WHEREAS, the AFT executive council intends to carry out the mandates in its governing documents concerning the convention set forth in: Constitution Article V, § 1 (officers are elected by the convention delegates for a term of two years); Constitution Article VII, § 1 (conventions are to be held biennially in even-numbered years at a place of the executive councils choosing); and Bylaws Article IV, § 1 (convention is to convene in July and/or August at a time and place determined by the executive council); and

WHEREAS, Article VI, § 10 of the AFT Constitution states, in relevant part, The executive council shall have the power to interpret and enforce [the AFT] constitution and to make rules not in conflict with … [the] constitution.  …”:

RESOLVED, to address the ongoing safety and health concerns arising from COVID-19, as well as with national, state and local public health guidance, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations concerning social distancing, the American Federation of Teachers will modify its adopted plan for the 2020 Convention; and

RESOLVED, the dates of the convention will be July 28-30; and

RESOLVED, the AFT will plan for a fully virtual convention where delegates will attend via the internet and where delegates will consider duly noticed constitutional and by-law changes as well as resolutions; and

RESOLVED, the AFT will hold an election for AFT officers among convention delegates via U.S. mail, following LMRDA-compliant procedures with ballots to be returned and received within 30-days from the commencement of the election. In the event a runoff election is necessary, an additional 30-day voting period for ballots to be returned and received will be provided from the time of the certification of results from the first round of voting; and

RESOLVED, the executive council will develop a modified convention agenda and set of procedures that are suitable to an entirely virtual format, and ensure the right of duly elected delegates to meaningfully participate in their national union’s convention.

Adopted May 7, 2020