|We now know why students can't do
their math, English, or even read. Teachers are involved in things
not related to teaching. It is impossible that these attitudes
will not enter the classroom. Remember these are the people that
have your kids 6-8 hours a day. Between your job and home chores
how much time do you spend with your children?
Teachers Union Adopts Positions on Iraq, Lebanon Wars
By Nathan Burchfiel
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
July 25, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Just weeks after the National Education Association came under fire for adopting a controversial resolution that critics said didn't apply to public education, The American Federation of Teachers has adopted resolutions opposing the war in Iraq, supporting Israel in its struggle against Hizballah and opposing Wal-Mart.
At its biennial convention July 19-22, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) adopted an official position against the war in Iraq, calling on U.S. officials to "withdraw all troops, bases and military operations in a rapid and timely manner and to put a stop to the unending military presence that will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation's security and weaken our military."
The 1.3 million-member union also approved a "special order of business" resolution that criticizes Hizballah for kidnapping two Israeli soldiers, an act that is blamed for inciting the Israeli shelling of Hizballah positions in southern Lebanon.
"[T]he American Federation of Teachers condemn the bombings, killings and kidnappings by Hezbollah and Hamas that precipitated this current crisis," the resolution stated. It added that "the AFT recognize Israel's right and responsibility to defend its borders and citizens from terrorist attacks and other threats to its sovereignty."
The union also approved a resolution vowing to "monitor the condition of human and trade union rights in China" and "demand that the Chinese government extend to all Chinese citizens their basic human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion."
Other resolutions encouraged members to boycott Wal-Mart because of the retail giant's alleged anti-union efforts and reiterated the AFT's longstanding support for abortion rights.
Jaime Zapata, a spokesman for the AFT, told Cybercast News Service that union members voted on these issues because "we believe that there is a direct connection between what happens here in the United States and what happens around the world."
He said union members voice their opinions on issues outside the realm of education because "so many of our members are involved in other areas of civic life."
Zapata said the issue of whether the AFT should address non-education related topics "didn't come up at all" during debate on the resolutions. He added that the union has members "who work not just as teachers or school staff but as other professionals, public employees, higher education workers, health care workers, so our work ... extends beyond the classroom in every sense."
But Sara Dogan, a spokeswoman for the conservative Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), said the AFT has its priorities "in the wrong place." She said instead of focusing on controversial issues like the Iraq war, the union should concentrate on "preserving the academic freedom for both teachers and students."
In another resolution passed during the conference, the AFT outlined its staunch opposition to the Academic Bill of Rights at the federal, state and university levels. The Academic Bill of Rights is a document created by SAF that Dogan said protects academic freedom for college and university students and their professors.
The AFT resolution warns that Academic Bill of Rights legislation, which has been introduced in at many as 20 state legislatures but has yet to be enacted on a statewide level, "would result in government intervention to ensure that more right-wing content is inserted into the college curriculum and classroom discussion."
In June, the National Education Association (NEA) enraged conservative family groups for proposing a resolution that would have voiced support for the legalization of same-sex marriages. The NEA eventually passed a watered down version of the resolution that voiced support for homosexual marriage and same-sex civil unions in the states where they already legally existed.
U.S. Policy in Iraq
WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers has always supported American troops in combat; and
WHEREAS, we have now lost more than 2,500 brave Americans in Iraq and Iraqi civilian dead and wounded number more than 100,000 to date:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers oppose the war in Iraq and call upon our country's leaders to withdraw all troops, bases and military operations in a rapid and timely manner and to put a stop to the unending military presence that will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation's security and weaken our military; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT support AFL-CIO Resolution 53, below, on the war in Iraq; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT actively encourage its state and local affiliates to join the AFT in working with the AFL-CIO to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home rapidly.
AFL-CIO Resolution: The War in Iraq
The AFL-CIO supports the brave men and women deployed in Iraq, which include our members in all branches of the armed services.
Our soldiers—the men and women risking their lives in Iraq—come from America's working families. They are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our husbands and wives. They deserve to be equipped properly with protective body gear and up-armored vehicles. And they deserve a commitment from our country's leaders to bring them home rapidly. An unending military presence will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation's security and weaken our military.
We have lost more than 1,700 brave Americans in Iraq to date, and Iraqi civilian casualties are in the thousands. In recent months, the insurgency increasingly has focused its terror on the Iraqi people, engaging in a deliberate campaign to frustrate their aspirations to take control of their own destiny. These aspirations were clearly demonstrated earlier this year when Iraqis defied widespread intimidation and escalating violence by turning out in the millions to elect a new Iraqi interim government tasked with writing a constitution. The AFL-CIO applauds the courage of the Iraqi people and unequivocally condemns the use of terror in Iraq and, indeed, anywhere in the world.
No foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. The American people were misinformed before the war began and have not been informed about the reality on the ground and the very difficult challenges that lie ahead.
It is long past time for the Bush administration to level with the American people and for Congress to fulfill its constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities. The AFL-CIO supports the call from members of Congress for the establishment of benchmarks in the key areas of security, governance, reconstruction and internationalization.
Since the beginning of the war almost two and a half years ago, the AFL-CIO has emphasized the support and participation of a broad coalition of nations, and the United Nations is vital to building a democratic Iraq. Greater security on the ground remains an unmet precondition for such efforts to succeed. The AFL-CIO calls on the international community to help the Iraqi people build capacity to maintain law and order through a concerted international effort to train Iraqi security and police forces.
Future efforts to rebuild the country are hampered by the weight of the massive foreign debt accumulated under the Saddam Hussein regime. The AFL-CIO calls for cancellation of Saddam's foreign debt without any conditions imposed upon the people of Iraq, who suffered under the regime that was supported by these loans. Further, the AFL-CIO calls for the cancellation of reparations imposed as a result of wars waged by Saddam Hussein's regime and the return of all Iraqi property and antiquities taken during the war and occupation.
The bedrock of any democracy is a strong free democratic labor movement.
That is true in the United States and Iraq.
Our returning troops should be afforded all resources and services available to meet their needs. Our members should return to their jobs, with seniority and benefits.
The AFL-CIO calls on Congress and President Bush to expand benefits for veterans and assist those affected by military base closings, including a G.I. Bill for returning Iraq veterans and a Department of Veterans Affairs housing program that meets current needs.
The AFL-CIO supports the efforts of Iraqi workers to form independent labor unions. In the absence of an adequate labor law, the AFL-CIO calls on the Iraqi government, as well as domestic and international companies operating in Iraq, to respect internationally recognized International Labor Organization standards that call for protecting the right of workers to organize free from all government and employer interference and the right to organize and bargain collectively in both the public and private sectors. These rights must be extended to include full equality for working women. The AFL-CIO condemns the fact that Saddam's decree No. 150, issued in 1987 that abolished union rights for workers in the extensive Iraqi public sector, has not been repealed. Under current laws, payroll deductions for union dues are not even permitted. The AFL-CIO calls on the Iraqi government to place as a top priority the adoption of a new labor law that conforms to international labor standards to replace the old anti-worker laws and decrees.
Despite legal obstacles, Iraq's workers and their institutions are already leaders in the struggle for democracy. Trade unionists are being targeted for their activism, and some have paid for their valor with their lives. The AFL-CIO condemns these brutal acts of intimidation.
The AFL-CIO has a proud history of solidarity with worker movements around the world in their opposition to tyranny. In concert with the international trade union movement, the AFL-CIO will continue to provide our full solidarity to Iraq's workers as they lead the struggle for an end of the violence and a more just and democratic nation.
on Lebanon War
Special Order of Business on State-Sponsored Terrorist and the Crisis in the Middle East:
WHEREAS, terrorism is the use of violence to impose the will of a minority on society; and
WHEREAS, the most egregious incidents are increasingly carried out by organizations acting on behalf of undemocratic governments; and
WHEREAS, these governments seek to avoid responsibility for the human suffering, death and destruction caused by the terrorist groups they use to impose their will on sovereign countries and their citizens; and
WHEREAS, the most recent attacks on the United States succeeded in large part because the terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, was protected and supported by the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, the terrorist organization, Hezbollah, openly sponsored and supported by the governments of Syria and Iran, proudly takes credit for the 1983 bombing of the Beirut barracks in which 241 U.S. marine peacekeepers were murdered; and
WHEREAS, on July 12, 2006, armed Hezbollah terrorists supported by Iran and Syria and based in Lebanon crossed the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel and killed eight Israeli soldiers and abducted two others back across the border to Lebanon; and
WHEREAS, this unprovoked attack was only the latest assault against Israel carried out by Hezbollah despite the fact that Israel withdrew from all Lebanese territory more than six years ago; and
WHEREAS, Hamas, the organization elected to run the Palestinian Authority, initiated the current crisis in Gaza by crossing the border into Israel, murdering two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third soldier to Gaza; and
WHEREAS, both Hezbollah and Hamas continue to attack Israeli cities and civilians with rockets, mortars and other heavy weapons supplied to them by Iran and Syria; and
WHEREAS, these two terrorist organizations are holding the people of Lebanon and the Palestinians in Gaza hostage while they carry out the political agendas of Iran and Syria; and
WHEREAS, the State of Israel has the right and responsibility to defend its citizens and borders as well as the obligation to demand the safe return of her soldiers abducted by Hamas and Hezbollah:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers condemn the bombings, killings and kidnappings by Hezbollah and Hamas that precipitated this current crisis; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT recognize Israel’s right and responsibility to defend its borders and citizens from terrorist attacks and other threats to its sovereignty; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT call for the implementation of U.N. Resolution 1559 that calls for the complete disarmament of Hezbollah and its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon and call on the parties to negotiate a cease fire; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT call on the world community to rally to the support of the democratically elected government in Lebanon to assist in its effort to establish a democratic, pluralistic Lebanon at peace with its neighbors and working to improve the lives of its own citizens.