AFT Resolution

SUPPORTING AND PROTECTING SENIORS AND RETIREMENT SECURITY IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

WHEREAS, as of May 6, 2020, the U.S. had over 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 71,000 deaths, more than the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War; and

WHEREAS, individuals over age 60 are at high risk for COVID-19 infection, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that more than half of ICU admissions and 80 percent of deaths from COVID-19 have been among individuals age 65 and over; and

WHEREAS, seniors living in long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, with nearly one-third of reported coronavirus deaths coming from nursing homes, and a number of states reporting that over half of their coronavirus deaths came from nursing homes; and

WHEREAS, many older Americans struggle to access high-quality healthcare and affordable medications, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the International Monetary Fund predicts that the coronavirus pandemic will cause the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression; and

WHEREAS, pandemic-related drops in tax revenues and increased costs have caused unexpected and unprecedented budget shortfalls in all 50 states, which are now struggling to fund public services; and

WHEREAS, as of the end of April, the needed fiscal assistance to state, municipal and local governments totaled $1 trillion; and

WHEREAS, Social Security represents the sole source of income in retirement for 40 percent of Americans; and

WHEREAS, some public workers have their Social Security unfairly reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset; and

WHEREAS, predictable monthly pension payments are a crucial source of security for retiree households; and

WHEREAS, recent studies by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that every dollar of retiree pension spending supports $2.13 in economic output, with this multiplier effect even more pronounced in rural areas; and

WHEREAS, federal stimulus packages passed so far have given hundreds of billions of dollars to the Federal Reserve to disperse to businesses with little oversight, with millions of dollars going to large, wealthy corporations and asset managers; and

WHEREAS, there are now some members of Congress who have proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other programs that seniors depend on during this pandemic, and have suggested that states should file for bankruptcy to deal with COVID-19-related losses, which would effectively gut public services and pensions; and

WHEREAS, seniors may face difficulties in getting to the polls and risk exposure to COVID-19 on Election Day, and many seniors already rely on the U.S. Postal Service to receive their prescription drugs by mail; and

WHEREAS, public employees are on the frontlines of the pandemic, treating patients, educating children and keeping public services running; and

WHEREAS, the majority of American Federation of Teachers members participate in defined-benefit pension plans, and public employees have played by the rules and actively contributed to their pension funds, which they are relying on to retire with dignity after dedicating their careers to public service; and

WHEREAS, protecting defined-benefit public pension funds and their participants is essential to promoting the economic security of all U.S. households during this pandemic:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will support economic stimulus measures that protect the health, safety and economic stability of seniors and retirees; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will fight for economic stimulus measures that address the immediate and long-term needs of students, families and communities, including the long-term retirement security of working people; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support expanding Social Security and reforms to the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset provision so that retired public servants are not unfairly penalized; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support measures that increase resources for long-term care facilities, including testing, treatment and personal protective equipment to protect the health and safety of residents and workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable population; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will oppose any measures or policies that would erode public pensions during and after the coronavirus pandemic, especially given that public employees have dedicated themselves to keeping the country running during the crisis; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support increased federal aid to states to be used as states need to address state and local budget shortfalls; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will oppose any taxpayer dollars to corporations and asset managers during and after the coronavirus epidemic that do not contain strong conditions that protect workers and employment and prohibit corporate profiteering and other abuses; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support efforts to configure workplaces to protect vulnerable communities, including older workers, from exposure to COVID-19; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will oppose efforts to undermine the retirement security of Americans, be they private or public sector workers, at a time when their decision to remain in the workforce should be based on their health and family concerns, not on economic pressures; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support adequate federal funding to the U.S. postal system to ensure seniors can continue to receive their prescription medications and have access to voting by mail to enable all Americans to vote safely; vote-by-mail with paid postage in addition to ballot drop-off; and increased safety precautions at polling sites, such as expanded early voting.

(2020)

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.