2013 resolutions passed by convention delegates

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Resolutions Adopted by Convention

 

Resolution No. 2013-1

Funding and Sufficient Positions to Handle Reporting Requirements

Whereas, America’s schools are under scrutiny from state education departments, legislatures, and Congress with mandates intended to improve student success; and

 Whereas, funding for education and assessment of a school is often based on a state’s, district’s or individual school’s data, even though this is often based on differing criteria which must be gathered, compiled and submitted to varying organizations and agencies by school faculty and staff; and

 Whereas, some of this information is gathered from externally mandated standardized tests which must be administered to specific K-12 grade levels at certain times, and can only be taken a specified number of times; and

 Whereas, additional information must be gathered and reported, for example, ethnicity; discipline records, such as, suspensions and expulsions; early leavers (dropouts); faculty teaching credentials; number of students per teacher; graduation rates, etc.; and

 Whereas, building specifics such as types of lighting in buildings, pesticide/herbicide and other chemical usage are now specified, and this information must now be tracked and reported; and

Whereas, faculty must spend designated planning time gathering and compiling student information, and classified staff must further compile and prepare all gathered information in order for school administrators to write and submit required reports; and

 Whereas, the time spent testing, checking, gathering, and compiling the information is time away from students and means that teachers and staff have to spend more time preparing students for externally mandated standardized testing, administering tests, and compiling test score data, rather than spending time on curriculum planning, instructions, and individual student assistance, to the point that even in-service days can no longer be spent in training but in preparing for testing or compiling test results in order to meet reporting requirements; and

Whereas, many times this reporting must be done online, but with disinvestment in education, many schools and districts have not been able to keep up with the necessary technology; and

Whereas, funding to local schools has been cut to the extent that schools are unable to offer students vocational or professional skills, art, and music courses, while the reduced numbers of teachers and classified staff are spending much of their time reporting, rather than teaching or working with students; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that teaching and classified staff be allowed to spend more of their time instructing, assisting, and guiding students through their education and life development, rather than preparing students for externally mandated standardized tests and compiling the results of the testing; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon opposes the increasing reliance on the requirements of externally mandated standardized testing, gathering, compiling, and writing of reports, at the expense of allowing teachers and staff to educate and support students; and

Be It Further Resolved, that school administrations must allow and fund for increased workload and support creation of sufficient positions to handle reporting requirements; and

 Be It Finally Resolved, that AFT-Oregon continue its support of fully funding schools.

 

Resolution No. 2013-2

Employers Offering Health Care to All Employees

Whereas, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) aims toward health care for all in the U.S.; and

Whereas, the PPACA encourages large employers with workforces over fifty employees to offer health care coverage, either through employer provided plans or through the health insurance exchanges, to their employees who work at least 30 hours a week; and 

Whereas, a health insurance exchange is a set of government-regulated and standardized health care plans in the United States, from which individuals may purchase health insurance eligible for federal subsidies; and

Whereas, exchanges of this type were intended as a means to help insurers comply with consumer protections and to compete in cost-efficient ways, and to facilitate the expansion of insurance coverage to more people; and

Whereas, some employers, e.g., fast food corporations, are avoiding these coverage requirements by reducing hours of their employees; and

Whereas, schools and colleges have reduced hours of their employees to avoid coverage for health care; and

Whereas, our current system of employment-based health insurance creates incentives for employers to keep employee workload below the qualifying level, despite the needs of both institution and employees; and

Whereas, this practice has a deleterious effect on the workloads of the shrinking number of those employed full-time; and

Whereas, all workers, part-time and full-time, need access to group coverage in order to secure affordable and adequate health care for themselves and their families; and

Whereas, the above reasons have been important factors in AFT-Oregon’s support of an insurance system that is fair, equitable, and provides for all workers; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will create and advocate for the creation of contract language that covers all employees with health care; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will create and advocate for the creation of contract language to protect workload issues as a result of limiting employees access to health insurance coverage; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will create and advocate for the creation of contract language to provide for employer contributions to/for employees that are participants in health care exchanges; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will advocate for the health care needs of all workers whenever legislation and initiatives are being developed by the coalitions with which AFT-Oregon participates; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will support and advocate for single-payer health insurance legislation as the ideal solution to the myriad problems of employer provided health insurance; and

 Be It Finally Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will prepare and submit resolutions for the 2014 Convention of the American Federation of Teachers and the next convention of the Oregon AFL-CIO that will make the securing of adequate and affordable health care for all workers a priority of those organizations.

 

Resolution No. 2013-3

Lowering Student Debt and Increasing Public Funding of Post-Secondary Education

Whereas, there has been a proposal to replace tuition at Oregon’s state colleges and universities by a “Pay it Forward” plan, whereby students pay no tuition up front but continually pay a percentage of their incomes for a period of twenty years up to a lifetime; and

Whereas, the Oregon University System is a public good, which benefits not only individual students in the state but also the state as a whole; and

Whereas, access to a high quality and affordable college education for all students is essential for social mobility in our society; and
          

Whereas, access to a high quality and affordable college education for all students is a matter, not merely of social justice, but also of economic strength for Oregon, and thus benefits all Oregonians; and

Whereas, the trend of privatization of education defers the economic burden onto students, which literally and figuratively impoverishes the community by suffocating students in often inescapable debt and creating insecurity in the funding of public education; and

Whereas, the increasing cost of education deepens existing inequality along racial and class lines by denying access to quality education to those in underprivileged financial circumstances making ‘public’ education into a privilege for the wealthy rather than an opportunity for those of merit; and

Whereas, public education exists explicitly for the purpose of providing accessible and quality education to all regardless of economic status, public universities are now a contradiction in terms, providing education primarily to those who can afford it or are willing to be indebted for decades; and

Whereas, although popular thought views higher education as a means to the end of a financially secure future, it is evident that:

  • In the current economy, students are often unable to procure relevant employment;
  • If it is an investment, the state is grossly underinvested;
  • Education is not merely a means to an end, but, as American philosopher John Dewey once stated, “Education is not preparation for life, it is life itself;” and

Whereas, education is an essential part of creating an informed and responsible community; and

Whereas, current funding structures for higher education produced either the inability for political action due to financial and physical constraints for those (full-time) students paying for their education with (full-time) employment, or apathy in students by deferring the costs of their education to their parents or their future selves with loans; and

Whereas, public funding for the Oregon University System has declined from $847 million 2007-2009 to $669 million in 2011-2013; and

Whereas, the cost of tuition has been rising at an alarming rate (e.g., a roughly 40 percent increase in the past four years at the University of Oregon) ranking the state of Oregon 46th out of 50 in state spending per university student, and is exacerbated by attendance fees; and

Whereas, Ballot Measure 5 (1990) has limited local municipalities’ abilities to fund K-12 education, placing the burden on the state government which trades off with funding of higher education; and

Whereas, since 2005, for example, state appropriations have declined from 36 percent of the University of Oregon’s budget to just seven percent currently; and

Whereas, for example, since 2007, the state support for the community college system has declined 25 percent ; and

Whereas, the percentage of the cost of college borne by students has gone up from 25 percent to over 60 percent since the 1990’s; and

Whereas, enrollment in state colleges and universities has continued to increase even amid funding cuts; and

Whereas, the Oregon 40-40-20 plan will see even greater enrollment at institutions of higher learning in Oregon; and

Whereas, tuition and fees for state colleges and universities have doubled in the last ten years in order to make up for declining state funding and increasing enrollment, a trend which is continuing; and

Whereas, a "Pay it Forward" plan, shifts the burden of paying for higher education to students, without addressing declining state support for higher education, rising tuition, or rising enrollments; and


 

 

Whereas,  a "Pay it Forward" plan removes the pressure for state government to restore higher education funding, lower tuition rates, and act to support state institutions which are beneficial to all Oregonians; and

Whereas, as educators and professionals, our primary output is the education of our students, and therefore also their debt; and

Whereas, many educators have their own debt and seek to stand in solidarity with their students; and

Whereas, tuition increases do not increase the quality of education for several reasons:

  • Standards are often lowered in order to accommodate working students, decreasing the overall quality of education;
  • Tuition increases are not reflected in increased number of instructors or their salaries and educational facilities, but rather in administration costs.  As a result, instructors are further burdened with larger class sizes (especially in institutions with growing enrollment) without added material support. With privatization of education, instruction becomes mechanized, demanding higher productivity and output at reduced costs;
  • Administrators can use tuition increases as a dividing tool between students and instructors hindering the mission of the educational institution; and

Whereas, increased costs of tuition are utilized against brothers and sisters in graduate teaching unions during bargaining as an argument against the administration paying them a living wage; and

Whereas, students and educators are grossly underrepresented on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education (11 public members are appointed for four-year terms whereas only two faculty and two students are appointed for two-year terms); and

Whereas, AFT national has previously supported resolutions regarding state funding of education (specifically in 2009 and 2012); now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon (AFT-Oregon) should engage in continued discussion with community members about the importance of education for citizens and workers; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will oppose plans that shift more of the burden of the cost of a public education onto individual students; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will support sufficient funding to relieve the burden on individual students and direct our post-secondary system education to benefit the public good; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon should make opposing the privatization of education and reversing the trend of decreased public funding a top lobbying priority; and

Be It Finally Resolved, that AFT-Oregon should advocate for increased student and educator representation on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and all other bodies regulating higher education.

 

Resolution No. 2013-5

Support for Regulation of Reverse Mortgages      

Whereas, reverse mortgages began in the early 1960’s as a tool to enable seniors to stay in their homes and gain access to money needed for retirement; seniors who built up equity in their homes could convert that equity into monthly payments or a line of credit so they could age in place in retirement; and           

Whereas, today borrowers are more likely to be in their early 60’s (62 is the minimum age), and they are overwhelmingly (70 percent) choosing a fixed rate lump sum payment option which puts them at a higher risk of using up all their home equity and having nothing left to finance a move needed for health or other reasons; and

Whereas, changes in the marketplace, including new riskier products with lower upfront costs, are making it tougher for consumers to understand tradeoffs they face; and

Whereas, in 2011 and 2012, banks representing 36 percent of the market share for reverse mortgages (For example, Wells Fargo and Bank of America) exited the reverse mortgage business, leaving smaller nonbank originators as the new key players, creating new risks for consumers; and

 Whereas, spouses or partners are often unaware that they are at risk of losing their home (if the borrower spouse or partner dies or moves, the non-borrower spouse or partner must pay off the mortgage – usually by selling the house); and

Whereas, Congress requires prospective borrowers to go through counseling, but some counseling agencies only get paid if a mortgage is closed, thus undermining the counselors’ impartiality; and counselors have a hard time explaining the basics; and

Whereas, the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) advises consumers to consider alternatives to a reverse mortgage such as: refinancing a traditional mortgage, opening a home equity line of credit, applying for property tax credits or property tax deferral programs, downsizing or moving in with relatives; and

Whereas, the real estate market over the past few years has been in a decline and reverse mortgage borrowers have found themselves “upside down” in their home due to declining property values; and

Whereas, tax deferral programs can further escalate the risk to seniors; while deferral of taxes may enable a senior to continue to live in their home without payment of real estate taxes, those taxes must be paid when the senior sells their home or dies, thus further reducing the amount of equity the senior has available; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon support regulations needed to improve disclosures to borrowers and limit misleading advertising such as sincere movie stars of a certain age who make the commercials believable – “You can get cash now;” – “It’s so easy;” and

Be It Finally Resolved, that AFT-Oregon, its members and affiliates support such regulations and encourage education of seniors so they understand both the advantages and the pitfalls of such reverse mortgages.

 

Resolution No. 2013-9

Support of Health Care for All Oregon

Whereas, unions and workers are waging an increasingly difficult struggle to win or to keep good health care coverage, and often must battle and sacrifice merely to sustain health care benefits.  The rising costs of health insurance are blocking workers’ progress in wages and other areas; and

Whereas, part-time workers and adjunct faculty, even when they are organized in unions, are generally denied employer-paid health coverage; and

Whereas, more than 46 million people in the U.S. are currently without health insurance, more than 75 million went without for some length of time within the last two years, and millions more have inadequate coverage or are at risk of losing coverage.  People of color, immigrants and women are denied care at disproportionate rates, while the elderly and many others must choose between necessities and life sustaining drugs and care.  Unorganized workers have either no or inadequate coverage; and

Whereas, we in the United States spend approximately twice as much of our gross domestic product as other developed nations on health care, while we remain the only industrialized country without coverage for all its residents; and

Whereas, the U.S. health system continues to treat health care as a commodity distributed according to the ability to pay, rather than as a social service to be distributed according to human need.  Insurance companies and HMOs compete not by increasing quality or lowering costs, but by avoiding covering those whose needs are greatest; and

Whereas, economic necessity and moral conscience compel us to seek a better way; and

Whereas, Vermont in 2011 was the first state to pass legislation that created a single-payer system and enabled health care for all, and this was a result of widespread network of unions, community groups, and health organizations; and

Whereas, AFT-Oregon is a member of Health Care for All Oregon, a coalition of unions, community groups, and health organizations, together working toward a ballot measure that would make Oregon the second state in the union to offer universal coverage for all its residents; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will work with Health Care for All Oregon to build a groundswell of popular support, lobbying, and action to pass an initiative for universal health care in Oregon; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will encourage our local leaders and our members to work with their local partners in Health Care for All Oregon and in their community to pass an initiative in favor of universal health care.

 

Resolution No. 2013-11

Ensure the Voting Rights of All Americans

Whereas, in the last several years there have been numerous attacks on the voting rights of Americans; and

Whereas, these attacks have been premised on the false claims that America is threatened with high levels of voter fraud; and

Whereas, the attacks have been conducted particularly through voter ID laws which are publicly-acknowledged voter suppression laws, and also through other suppression and disenfranchisement strategies that include but are not limited to the reduction of early voting days and times, insufficient or outdated and malfunctioning voting machines, biased and unlawful purging of voter rolls, specifically focused barriers to registration, and more; and

Whereas, studies by non-partisan organizations such as Judicial Watch and the Brennen Center for Justice have indicated that the majority of these laws and strategies disproportionately affect the elderly, poor, minorities, and young people, and include, but are not limited to, a disproportionate number of provisionary and discarded ballots, voting machine malfunctions, incorrect voter notification, high numbers of flipped votes, and lost ballots; and

Whereas, investigations have indicated that the majority of voting machines are owned by private companies which have publicly declared their allegiance to a single political party, and that the dangers of hacking such machines has been proven to be high, according to research; and

Whereas, the actions taken to suppress votes have been led in large part by organizations such as ALEC, the far-right corporate collaborative led by the Koch brothers, with resources to contribute to this movement being in the millions of dollars, risking the undue control of our nation by a few wealthy individuals rather than the democratic whole of our society; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the AFT-Oregon and its affiliates go on record in support of actions that help ensure that voting is “free, fair, and accessible for all Americans,” that

the voting processes in America which are flawed are corrected, including, but not limited to, such concerns as ensuring:

  • Purges of voter rolls that do not disenfranchise legally registered voters;
  • Protection from use of privately owned and controlled voting machines with insufficient safeguards against hacking;
  • Equal and easy access to voting, including, but not limited to, working and updated voting machines with paper records, locations near voters’ homes, comfortable voting locations for all voters, and early voting times and days;
  • Consistency in standards across the nation in guidelines that protect voters’ rights, provide freedom from harassment at the polls, and reduce long lines for voters;
  • Protection from any efforts to rig the Electoral College or other gerrymandering;
  • Modernizing voter registration to reduce dangers of misspelling, wrong addresses, and legal name changes;
  • Ease in registering citizens to vote, and protection against unreasonable obstructions to registration;
  • Protection against misleading or biased information being distributed to voters by state or local governments;
  • Sufficient lead times in any changes in voting times, locations, procedures, or other regulations and rules governing voting so that the courts can examine the changes as appropriate to their purview and the voters have sufficient notice of the changes that the changes do not affect their rights to vote; and

            Be It Finally Resolved, that this resolution be suitably edited and forwarded to the American Federation of Teachers and the Oregon AFL-CIO for action by those bodies.

 

Resolution No. 2013-12

Improving Revenue Streams Through Tax Fairness

Whereas, Oregon relies on too few and too regressive revenue sources for funding essential public services, resulting in an inherently unstable revenue stream for education and public services; and

Whereas, the current revenue sources are tied to economic factors that lead to decreased resource availability at the time when the demand for education and public services are the greatest; and

Whereas, the wealthiest one percent of the Oregon population still pay a smaller percentage of their income than lower-income families; and

Whereas, legislators and voters have supported progressive tax measures that have the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes; and

Whereas, the effects of previous property tax initiatives, created and financed by special interests, anti-government, and anti-education forces, limited property tax rates for education to a maximum of $5 per $1,000, and rates for general government to a maximum of $10 per $1,000; and

Whereas, these initiatives also disconnected property tax assessments from real market value on both residential and commercial property regardless of whether the property was sold to new owners; and        

Whereas, commercial property is a different market than residential property yet is subject to the same limitations as residential property; and

Whereas, the limitations have led to compression for some properties, where some taxpayers do not contribute to levies passed in their districts; and

Whereas, the lack of revenue has led to a chronic disinvestment in education, health care, and infrastructure; and

Whereas, this system has depleted our education system and other public services of necessary funding, leading to high student debt, overcrowded classrooms, lack of essential services; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will support legislation that seeks to revise property tax formulas for more balance, such as, those that address tax rates on commercial real estate, compression and resale factors; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will support the termination of tax expenditures that are loopholes for wealthy corporations and individuals to avoid paying their fair share in taxes; and

Be It Finally Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will support the establishment of a progressive and stable revenue stream to provide for the support of education, health care, and infrastructure in Oregon.

 

Resolution No. 18

(Submitted as a Special Order of Business)

Resolution Against So-Called Academic Freedom Bills that Undermine the Accurate Teaching of Evolution

Whereas, biological evolution is a fundamental underpinning of modern biological thought and research and is not the subject of controversy among scientists; and

            Whereas, the unfettered teaching of evolution in public schools has been under attack since the early part of the twentieth century and before; and

            Whereas, the Supreme Court further declared in Edwards v. Aguillard that requirements to teach creation science in schools as an alternative to evolution are unconstitutional; and

Whereas, the Supreme Court further declared in Kitzmiller v. Dover that requirements to teach intelligent design in schools as an alternative to evolution are unconstitutional; and

Whereas, a strategy to teach creationism, intelligent design, or evolution denial into public science classrooms has emerged with the passage of laws intended to teach these theories as science under the guise of protecting academic freedom in the classroom; and

 Whereas, these laws may include misleading provisions, such as to teach “the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution,” and offers students “protection for subscribing to a particular position on views regarding biological or chemical evolution,” (Discovery Institute, Model Academic Freedom Statute on Evolution, 2007); and

Whereas, these laws may include misleading provisions, such as to help students develop “critical thinking skills” on “controversial issues,” and direct teachers to discuss “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories,” (Louisiana Science Education Act, 2008); and

Whereas, AFT-Oregon believes that Oregon teachers already endeavor “to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific subjects,” (Tennessee HB 268/SB 893) and indeed all subjects within their curricula; and

Whereas, over 50 of these bills have been introduced in 13 state legislatures since 2004, and more have already been introduced in 2013 than in all of 2012; and

Whereas, two of these bills (Louisiana SB 561/733 in 2008 and Tennessee HB 368 in 2011) have become law in their respective states; and

Whereas, the American Association of University Professors says of these bills: “Such efforts run counter to the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution and are inconsistent with a proper understanding of the meaning of academic freedom;” and

 Whereas, the National Center for Science Education declares: “Teachers have no freedom to misinform and miseducate students.  It is scientifically inappropriate and educationally irresponsible to present [intelligent design] under its own name or in any guise as scientifically credible.  And it is unconstitutional to do so in the public schools;” now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon encourages and expects Oregon’s science teachers, in presenting evolution and other topics, to understand, respect, and communicate the consensus of the scientific community, in order to present the science curriculum effectively to their students; and

 Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will be on alert for, and opposed to, bills at the state or federal level that attempt to use the guise of academic freedom as a means of introducing creationism, intelligent design, or evolution denial into science classrooms; and

 Be It Further Resolved, that, as adopted and suitably edited, this resolution will be forwarded to the AFT national convention for consideration.

 

Resolution No. 19

(Submitted as a Special Order of Business)

Opposition of Legislation Which Allows Public Sector Jobs to be Contracted Out to Private Industry

Whereas, public employees are accountable to the organization they are working for; and

 Whereas, public institutions have a structure of oversight that ends with elected officials that are accountable to voters; and

Whereas, public sector jobs provide living wages which workers spend to strengthen the local community in which they live; and

 Whereas, contracted positions rotate personnel regularly, preventing investment in the local community; and

Whereas, public sector institutions are beholden to communities while private industry is beholden to share holders; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon opposes new laws or reforms that would allow fewer restrictions on the contracting out of public sector jobs; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon opposes attempts to eliminate or gut existing laws restricting contracting out and supports additional regulations that would preserve quality of services by keeping these services and our jobs from being outsourced to private companies that are not accountable to the public; and

Be It Further Resolved, that consistent with Oregon AFL-CIO goals of increasing participatory support between Locals and other unions, AFT-Oregon is directed to inform all locals of contracting threats to any local and to strongly urge direct action by locals to support those under threat of attacks by contracting out union jobs; and

Be It Further Resolved, that this resolution be suitably edited and forwarded to Oregon AFL-CIO and the AFT for appropriate action by those bodies.