AFT Resolution

YOUNG WORKERS MOVEMENT

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers membership has increased since the Janus Supreme Court decision. A wave of educator strikes across the country has demonstrated our strength, led to big wins, and brought students and families with us into the streets; and

WHEREAS, public opinion of unions is at a 15-year high, with young workers having especially high support for organized labor; and

WHEREAS, the future of the labor movement depends on involving young members in order to combat the corporate onslaught on unions that has resulted in dwindling membership and legal rights. Higher rates of membership participation and activism from young members will increase our locals’ ability to win substantial victories at our work sites for our schools, communities, families and students; and

WHEREAS, young adults come out of their education experience keenly aware and critical of the challenges facing the system and eager to be part of the solution. Education privatizers have realized this and co-opted social justice language to funnel young adults away from the labor movement and into problematic education reform pipelines. We have an opportunity to recruit and engage young educators through their commitment to social justice and their desire to be part of a movement to realize the potential of public education; and

WHEREAS, a younger generation of activists and trade unionists recognizes that the problems experienced by members and the families they serve—including struggles for racial, sexual and economic justice—continue both in and out of the workplace. As young people rise up to lead fights for justice around the world, so too are they rising up within the labor movement to use our unions as a tool to improve our workplaces and society; and

WHEREAS, many of our professions, including teaching, have a high rate of burnout and turnover among young workers. Encouraging membership participation from young workers is a crucial part of membership retention; and

WHEREAS, young workers are disproportionately affected by the economic crises of our time, including catastrophic climate change, crushing student loan debt, rising healthcare costs, austerity, and increasing retirement insecurity; and

WHEREAS, a generation of skilled union members, activists and leaders is retiring, creating a need for younger members who are ready with the leadership experience, organizing know-how, and institutional knowledge to keep our workplaces and unions strong. Formal mechanisms within the union are required to provide this training and experience; and

WHEREAS, other unions have ratios for the allocation of delegates to conventions with the goal of achieving demographic representation that mirrors the demographics of local membership:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will create pipelines to leadership such as an Emerging Leaders Academy and an advisory board of younger members with an annual meeting to discuss needs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will dedicate the necessary resources to recruiting, training, and retaining new leaders through regional and national conferences specifically dedicated to gathering young members; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage each local to bring at least one young person or early service member to the biennial national convention and will commit to having the demographics of our national convention reflect the demographics of our membership; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to organize locals that have many young members, such as charter schools; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue organizing for a union presence on college campuses by dedicating the necessary resources to expand our associate membership program for pre-service teachers to join the union.

(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.