AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

BUILDING A 21ST-CENTURY ECONOMY FOR ALL

WHEREAS, to build a fair economy that strengthens and expands the middle class, and that ensures ongoing investment in infrastructure and education, will require creating and sustaining good jobs; and

WHEREAS, due to the Great Recession, nearly 20 million Americans today lack good jobs. One in four of our children are living in poverty. Our fiscal system struggles to generate the funds to provide needed services and investments. And the American dream of a middle-class lifestyle seems increasingly out of reach for too many. To solve these problems, we must put America back to work; and

WHEREAS, to create those jobs and rebuild a broad highway to a middle-class way of life, we must reinvest in America. We must modernize our infrastructure, fund the public services needed to create real economic development, and take steps to see that hard work will have rewards not just for the fortunate few but for everyone. Forward-looking policy at every level of government is needed to accomplish these goals; and

WHEREAS, we need to rebuild our infrastructure now. The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that it will take $200 billion in investments just to properly maintain our schools, roads, water system, electrical system and other infrastructure; additional investments are needed to move the economy into the 21st century. Failure to modernize these systems has caused us to waste trillions of dollars. We have allowed the recession and its concomitant politics to prevent us from investing in a physical platform for real economic growth; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers not only is committed to advocating for good jobs but has been working to help create those jobs by partnering with other public sector unions, the AFL-CIO, and the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO to promote meaningful investment in the nation’s infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, we must reinvest in the public services needed to build a strong economy and society. In the current crisis, states have had to close budget gaps totaling more than half a trillion dollars, and services like education, environmental protection, public safety and healthcare have been cut dramatically. Rising tuition is burdening students and families with ever-increasing debt, threatening students’ access to higher education and undermining their futures. Public services create greater security for the poor and the most vulnerable, and they provide greater opportunities for all. They are an investment in our long-term competitiveness, and cutting them harms American businesses’ ability to innovate and grow; and

WHEREAS, austerity and disinvestment has harmed, not improved, our economy. In the United States, cuts to state and local governments have pulled down economic growth every quarter for more than three years. The impact of these cuts on the broader economy has cost us more than half a million private sector jobs. Britain and other nations in Europe that have pursued the kind of radical austerity programs proposed by deficit hawks in America have already moved back into recession; and

WHEREAS, we need to ensure real equality of opportunity. During the Great Recession, corporate profits and CEO compensation continued to rise while more than 600,000 state and local government jobs were lost and members of our union endured furloughs, pay freezes, pay cuts and benefit reductions. The richest 1 percent of households now earn as much in a year as the bottom 60 percent combined and possess as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This degree of inequality is unprecedented in post–Great Depression America. Without action, our children’s futures will be determined not by their abilities but largely by the circumstance of their birth; and

WHEREAS, we must make dignity—not just work—available to all. Too many working Americans lack healthcare or even the option to take sick days. Too many lack pensions, and too many are forced to work long hours without earning overtime. There even have been legislative attempts to undermine child labor protections; and

WHEREAS, the AFT executive council issued a report in February 2012 titled Building a 21st-Century Economy for All: Recommendations on Good Jobs, Fair Funding and Quality Public Services, which identifies concrete steps to improve job growth and revenues to support public services and build pathways to the middle class:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers’ executive council report shall be used as a basis for advancing proposals, such as President Obama’s American Jobs Act, that will modernize our public infrastructure, retain public sector workers and put people to work in good jobs; and

RESOLVED, that we must advocate for ways to create a virtuous circle where revenues are invested in services and projects that support the creation of good jobs and economic development, leading to fiscal stability and a more prosperous future for all;

RESOLVED, that through this effort, we also must help families find jobs, stay in their homes, develop their skills, support their children’s education, experience the dignity and security that comes from union membership, and get the rights and protections on the job that everyone deserves; and

RESOLVED, that in order to provide for the investments necessary to accomplish the goals of this resolution, we will advocate for a tax system where the richest people and most profitable corporations assume a greater share of the tax burden and have fewer chances to avoid their obligations to society. This includes supporting President Obama’s call for a minimum corporate tax for multinational corporations and his proposals to institute a minimum tax rate (the “Buffett Rule”) on the richest taxpayers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will oppose efforts to implement failed austerity policies in the United States. We acknowledge that the nation has long-term deficit issues that must be addressed. But in the short term, plans to lower investment, such as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, will limit our economic growth, hurt our communities and harm our capacity to deal with our fiscal issues; and

RESOLVED, that at all levels of government, structures, auditors and legislation must be in place to collect the taxes that are owed. The gap between taxes levied and those actually collected must be closed and the additional revenues used to prevent cuts in valuable services. This includes support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require corporations conducting business online to collect sales tax, as brick-and-mortar retailers must do; and

RESOLVED, that we will continue our efforts to ensure public services are delivered as effectively as possible. This includes supporting commonsense efforts like pooling initiatives and wellness programs to control healthcare costs, limiting the spread of predatory privatization, and giving workers a voice through labor-management cooperation on how to provide services more efficiently; and

RESOLVED, that with so many Americans looking for work today, we will take action to invest in schools, transportation, research, education, public safety and healthcare to sustain our nation and repair our crumbling infrastructure. We will do this by supporting public investment in infrastructure, including fiducially sound investment from public pension funds, that keep public assets public, and by advocating for education and other services needed to support jobs and development in our communities. The result will be jobs for the future, a more productive workforce, healthier citizens and a more vibrant economy. We can’t afford to wait any longer. This is an investment that must be made now.


(2012)