AFT Resolution


For more than a century, the American Federation of Teachers has been faithful to our founding watchwords, Democracy in Education, Education for Democracy.” Democracy is our North Star. The phrase inspires the work we do with our students, our patients and our constituents. It is the source of our dedication to public service, our involvement in community and our engagement with the political process. It guides us when we organize and struggle together for our common cause. For our union, there is no principle or value more important, more essential, or more vital than democracy; and 

Today, we in the AFT are deeply troubled by the state of our nations democracy. The heart of that democracy is government of, by and for the people.” For it to survive and thrive, the American people must choose our government through free and fair elections, and the power of government must be peacefully transferred to our choice. Over the last decade, the AFT has expressed our growing apprehension that free and fair elections in the U.S. were being undermined by measures designed to thwart the will of the people—voter suppression, the influence of “dark” and unlimited money in elections, and extreme partisan gerrymandering. After the 2020 election, those efforts metamorphosed into a frontal assault on this electoral foundation of democracy, with the promotion of the “big lie” that Donald Trump had won the election, the Jan. 6 insurrection that attempted to violently overturn the election of Joe Biden, and with the passage of legislation in a number of states that enables the overturning of future democratic elections; and

A democratic government cannot stand on its own: It can only be sustained when it sinks deep roots into democratic society. It is of grave concern to the AFT that the assault on democratic government in the U.S. has been accompanied by attempts to eviscerate the democratic society it needs to survive. We have seen: efforts to destroy civic trust in our communities by promoting fear, prejudice and hate against the “other” (African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans; LGBTQIA+ people; Jews, Muslims and other minority religions; and immigrants); the calculated dissemination of lies, disinformation and conspiracy theories to tear at the fabric of our collective knowledge and shared understanding of the world; the stoking of extreme polarization and division to impede efforts at civic dialogue and communication; the banning of books in schools and libraries and the loss of freedom and rights; and the attacks on institutions that promote the common good, such as public education, healthcare and unions; and

We in the AFT know these attacks on democratic society all too well. We have borne the brunt of a number of them: AFT healthcare professionals put their health and safety at risk to care for patients in the pandemic, only to be attacked for following medical science and promoting the public health; AFT educators sacrificed to provide an education for our students in the pandemic that upended normal modes of instruction, only to be attacked for teaching students how to distinguish truth from falsehood and propaganda, for providing a full and honest history of our nations past, and for building mutual respect and understanding among them; and AFT unionists have committed ourselves to public service in the most difficult and trying time of the pandemic, only to be blamed for its disruption of our lives and to find our work vilified; and

We are now at a critical point in our nations history, as some people in one of the two major political parties in the U.S. are so craven for power that they are willing to attack the very foundations of democracy it order to obtain it. Too many elected officials and candidates for office—led by former President Trump—repeat the “big lie” about the 2020 election, excuse the Jan. 6 insurrection (including actual participants in that days events), promote legislation that would strike at free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power. Unfortunately, in the service of power, these same people have promoted fear and hate, disinformation and conspiracy theories, stoking of polarization and division, including the banning of books and in attacks on public education, healthcare and unions; and

The 2022 and 2024 elections are critical for the survival of democracy. The extremists’ goal is to win control over all levers of government, from school boards to state houses to the White House and Capitol Hill. If they are successful electorally, they will act to replace democratic government with a self-perpetuating autocracy of permanent minority rule. Pro-democracy candidates, pro-public education and pro-healthcare candidates, and pro-working family candidates must win in these elections; and

Working families are hurting and tired, but they are also a resilient people who can meet any challenge. They just want to be given a fair shot—something that is increasingly difficult in these times of disinformation and distrust. Americans are understandably frustrated and skeptical of how to meet their needs. It is the job of the AFT and the labor movement to help people connect the dots between addressing their everyday concerns and worries with real-life solutions; and this can best be achieved by doing so on the very local level—focusing on people’s concerns and priorities, and fighting for candidates who will fight for a better life; and

Political commentators are fond of the adage elections have consequences.” Those consequences are not just over who holds the reins of power in our government. When elections put into power those who embrace what was once a fringe racist and antisemitic theory that whites are being replaced” by people of color and immigrants as part of a conspiracy masterminded by Jews, when these candidates take the message of the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville and make it into mainstream discourse by repeating it on media outlets such as Fox News and Newsmax and on social media, the consequences for democracy and those most in need can be grave; and 

Now is the time for an election that defends democracy in America and, in so doing, brings liberty and justice for all Americans: 

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers reaffirms our unwavering commitment to democracy in America, both in our government and in our society, and commits itself to the vigorous defense of that democracy; and

RESOLVED, that to this end, the AFT will place the highest priority of the election of candidates who share our commitment to democracy in the 2022 and 2024 elections; and

RESOLVED, that together with our state and local affiliates, the AFT will work to ensure that all of our members and their families are registered to vote, and will dedicate resources for voter registration work at the local level; and

RESOLVED, that together with our state and local affiliates, the AFT will work with our community partners to ensure that all Americans are able to freely exercise their right to vote so that voter suppression efforts, which target disproportionately communities of color, are unsuccessful; and

RESOLVED, that together with our state and local affiliates, the AFT will mount member-to-member voter engagement and GOTV (get-out-the-vote) campaigns, so our members and their families are informed on the candidates’ positions on the issues and cast their ballots in the election; and

RESOLVED, that together with our state and local affiliates, the AFT will work with the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2022 political program, focusing on local electoral activism through central labor councils and AFL-CIO state federations; and

RESOLVED, that together with our state and local affiliates, the AFT commits to working tirelessly in the 2022 and 2024 elections to support candidates and issues that advocate for democracy, strengthen public education, ensure high-quality healthcare, and fight for all working families and, in so doing, make it possible for all Americans to thrive.

(July 16, 2022)