US: “Quality housing for all…For a massive program of public works”

Union adopts socialist demands on housing crisis

Members and supporters of Socialist Alternative at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ (AFSCME) International Convention, in San Francisco, last week, submitted a resolution on the US mortgage crisis. This was accepted with one minor amendment and this resolution is now the officially adopted policy of the 1,400,000 strong American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL/CIO.

The resolution reads as follows:



The open-ended Federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the privately owned, publicly subsidized corporations which finance three quarters of new mortgages for family homes, potentially increases our national debt by 60%, adding Fannie and Freddie’s combined liabilities of $5.3 trillion to the existing debt of $9.2 trillion; and


This represents a massive U-turn by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, demonstrating, like the recent Bear Stearns bailout, that the free-market policies of the past three decades have totally failed. As always, it is working class taxpayers who will be forced to pay the bill, subsidizing the profits and canceling out the losses of big business; and


Wealth is created, not by gambling and speculation in the financial markets, nor in the executive suites of overpaid CEO’s but only by the labor of people who do actual work, regardless of whether this is done in the public or private sectors; and


The workers who create that wealth are facing a crisis of inflation in food, fuel and other essentials but at the same time a crisis of deflation in the value of our homes, with 2 million foreclosures last year and another 2.5 million expected this year. At the same time, corporations are laying off thousands of workers and cutting pay and benefits for those who are still employed, [and]


The maintenance of a secondary mortgage market for home mortgages is a public good which has been undermined by the privatization of the Federal National Mortgage Association; and].


That this Union demand the following program from our elected officials:

  • No handouts to the banks and corporations who are responsible for creating this chaos. When businesses have to be "rescued" in order to save workers’ livelihoods this should be done by taking them into public ownership under democratic control.
  • A moratorium on home foreclosures. Quality housing for all, including grants to upgrade existing homes, communities and public transportation rather than feeding the profits of developers through suburban sprawl.
  • For a massive program of public works, administered with democratic control at a local level, and with community and union involvement. This should create jobs at union rates of pay to all those who are out of work or under-employed. It should rebuild the infrastructure, building and renovating schools, hospitals, transportation, sanitation and workplaces so that everyone has access to a living wage and the economy can be rebuilt.

Resolution moved by:

  • Stephen Edwards, President and Delegate, AFSCME Local 2858
  • Angie Whitfield, Delegate, AFSCME Local 2858
  • Bunnie Johnson, Delegate, AFSCME Local 2858
  • Yvohnne Hankins, Delegate, AFSCME Local 2858)

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August 2008