AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the Ukrainian people have a long history of fighting for their sovereignty, including, since World War II, voting for independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, and pushing out Russian puppet control in 2014. Ukrainians see themselves as part of Europe and have repeatedly sought entry, like others from the former Soviet sphere, into the European Union and NATO. On the morning of Feb. 24, 2022, Russian forces launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, threatening its sovereignty, democracy, and creating a terrible humanitarian and refugee crisis; and

WHEREAS, this invasion has turned into a horrific and brutal war, in which the civilian population has suffered horribly, amounting to crimes of war; Russias invasion,has leveled cities, killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians—and Russians—and forced millions from their homes; and

WHEREAS, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 1,500 schools across Ukraine have been destroyed, damaged or forced to close, displacing thousands of students and teachers; in addition, hospitals and clinics, religious and cultural sites, and public institutions have been deliberately targeted by heavy artillery, explosives and air strikes; and

WHEREAS, this invasion is an assault not just on Ukraine, but also on international order, which is based upon the mutual understanding that conflicts among nations can be resolved by peaceful and diplomatic means; as educators—teachers of government, civics and world history—we have not forgotten the costs paid over many decades in creating that order; and

WHEREAS, the plight of refugees is heart-rending. More than 5 million refugees are estimated to have fled to neighboring countries, and more than 7 million are estimated to be internally displaced—remaining in Ukraine, but having lost homes, jobs, families and community. We note that:

·            Nearly all of those fleeing Ukraine have been welcomed into neighboring countries, although some minorities of color or religion, from Africa and Asia, have met with wrongful discrimination at the border; and 

·            The flood of refugees has highlighted the special plight of women, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups now facing new risks of gender-based violence or trafficking; and

WHEREAS, the cost of Russian aggression in Ukraine is not only impacting the people of Ukraine and their neighbors in Europe, its also impacting Americas working families by triggering higher energy costs, higher food costs and, eventually, increased taxes due to a higher defense budget; and

WHEREAS, Ukraine has always been one of the world’s top grain and vegetable-oil suppliers, but the war is now disrupting its harvests and exports, contributing to a global food crisis, and risking a new wave of hunger in the world’s most vulnerable countries; and

WHEREAS, the Biden administration has thus far shown leadership in guiding a coordinated response among a significant number of allies to support Ukraine while preventing direct U.S. military involvement; and

WHEREAS, the humanitarian task ahead is daunting; but the outpouring of rescue assistance from relief workers, international agencies, faith-based organizations and individual volunteers has been enormous, both within Ukraine and in neighboring countries; and

WHEREAS, Human Rights Watch has documented several cases of Russian military forces committing law-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas; these include sexual assault and rape, summary execution, rioting and other cases of unlawful violence; those who carried out these abuses, says Human Rights Watch, are responsible for war crimes:

RESOLVED, the American Federation of Teachers condemns without reservation the unprovoked and unjustified Russian invasion of Ukraine, and affirms the fundamental principle that aggression should not be the answer to conflict among nations. We assert, as we have for more than 100 years since our unions founding, that the pursuit of peace and democracy is a fundamental value of the labor union movement, and an essential tenet in securing social justice, worker rights, and human rights; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT expresses solidarity with the people, workers and labor unions of Ukraine; we highlight the Ukrainian unions of teachers, healthcare professionals, emergency workers and public employees who continue their heroic work even while under fire; and we extend that solidarity to Russian independent unions and activists who bravely oppose the war from within Russia; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to support the needs of students, educators and teachers unions who remain in Ukraine, where education continues, even under the most difficult conditions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT joins with those in the international community calling for an immediate end to hostilities in Ukraine; the retreat of Russian forces; restoration of Ukraines sovereign borders; and negotiations for a peace process that respects democracy, human rights and international law; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to support political and economic measures aligned with ending the war. As examples:

·            We will continue to support the administration’s financial and political sanctions that specifically target the interests and assets of the Russian leadership and oligarchs; and

·            In the interest of our communities, we will back efforts to shield America’s food and energy supplies from the economic backlash of the war; and

·            We will renew our call for the prudent divestment of public school teachers’ pension fund assets from investments with ties to Russia; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports efforts by the United States and the world community to provide humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people, including both refugees and internally displaced people; we urge countries that are receiving refugees to welcome them regardless of their color, religion, ethnicity or nationality, and to work for their integration without discrimination; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue our own direct outreach and support of teachers and their unions in refugee-receiving countries, including Poland, Germany and across Europe, where local schools are integrating refugee children into education systems and resettling them in their communities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to support other union-based efforts, such as those by Education International and Public Services International, to channel humanitarian aid to the region; and we recognize the generosity of thousands of individual AFT members who have so far participated in an unprecedented humanitarian fundraising effort; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will ally with international human rights organizations in reaffirming that the laws of war prohibit murder, sexual violence, torture, and inhumane treatment of captured combatants and civilians; those who order or commit such acts are responsible for war crimes, and must be held accountable; and 

RESOLVED, that the AFT recognizes the cost of this war to our members, their families and their communities, and the sacrifices that will be made in the fight for defending democracy.

(July 17, 2022)