AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, attacks on the labor movement have been increasing in volume and intensity fomented by anti-union politicians, organizations, corporations and wealthy individuals; and

WHEREAS, recent attacks have been primarily focused on public employee unions including teachers, police officers and firefighters and other local, state and federal employees; and

WHEREAS, research conducted by Hart Associates indicates that, of all adults, 46 percent said they knew a fair amount or a great amount about unions as opposed to 54 percent who said they knew just a little or did not know much about unions; and

WHEREAS, that same research found a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation about unions and what they do; and

WHEREAS, other studies show that the more people know about unions, the higher the approval rate; and

WHEREAS, Americans said their chief sources of knowledge about unions were personal experience (37 percent), people in unions (26 percent) and the media (25 percent) while schools were not mentioned at all; and

WHEREAS, while there are a number of well-documented reasons for the relative decline of American labor, including intense opposition from employers and their allies, it can be argued that the lack of knowledge or incorrect knowledge about unions contributed to this decline; and 

WHEREAS, the lack of knowledge and support of the labor movement makes it more difficult to gain public and political support for its goals; and

WHEREAS, a number of studies conclude that the American labor movement has been—and is—a major advocate for measures to improve the lives of working families, including public education, a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, health and safety laws, progressive leave policies, the right to organize and bargain collectively, Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and improved wages and working conditions for all American workers whether in a union or not; and

WHEREAS, if the fortunes of the American labor movement are to improve, its story must be told and told more effectively; and

WHEREAS, the Albert Shanker Institute in cooperation with the American Labor Studies Center published “American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks: How Labor's Story is Distorted in High School History Textbooks” that concludes that labor’s role in U.S. history is misrepresented, downplayed or ignored; and

WHEREAS, there exists a number of excellent programs and curriculum about the rich history and the economic, political, social and cultural activities of workers and their unions but few find their way into American classrooms and labor education programs; and

WHEREAS, the American Labor Studies Center owns and is restoring the home of Kate Mullany, a young Irish immigrant who formed our nation’s first bona fide all-female union in 1864—the Troy Collar Laundry Union—that was designated a National Historic Landmark by the secretary of the interior in 1998 and a National Historic Site, a unit within the National Park System, by Congress in 2004; and

WHEREAS, the American Labor Studies Center is in the process of establishing a National Trade Union Women’s Memorial honoring women who have made significant contributions to workers and their unions throughout our nation’s history at the Kate Mullany National Historic Site; and

WHEREAS, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wrote, “The American Labor Studies Center is a wonderful source for elementary and secondary teachers who are seeking high-quality curriculum materials and resources for integrating labor history, and an understanding of the role of the labor movement, into their classrooms. It deserves the strong support of all those who support the labor movement and the Center’s mission”:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will actively continue its policies and programs to assist members to understand the need for the integration of the labor movement and its history into the curriculum, and identify curriculum resources and strategies; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to actively support and promote the American Labor Studies Center ( that provides high-quality and extensive K-12 teaching materials about the American labor movement and its history through its communications platforms and the restoration and opening of the Kate Mullany National Historic Site ( in Troy, N.Y., and the creation of a National Trade Union Women’s Memorial at the site.

Adopted 9/29/2022