Skip to main content
Resolutions & Amendments

29th International Convention - Miami, FL (1990)

Peace Dividend

Resolution No. 11
29th International Convention
June 25-29, 1990
Miami, FL


Today, America is struggling with three major deficits. In addition to fiscal and trade deficits, our position as a world leader has been jeopardized by the decade-long deficiency in public investment in our people and our economic infrastructure. Since 1981, the U.S. military budget has grown 40 percent after inflation. Conversely, federal spending on domestic investments such as education, training, child development, civilian research and development, transportation, and national resources fell almost one-third. If federal spending, as a percent of the Gross National Product (GNP), for these domestic initiatives in 1989 matched their 1980 level, these programs would have, received an additional $85 billion; and


The results of our spending priorities are readily apparent. While the United States ranks first among Western nations in military expenditures, we are in 14th place in spending for elementary and secondary education. We now rank fourth in literacy with 25 percent of high school students dropping out before graduation. Although we spend a higher percent of GNP on health care than other Western countries, we rank 14th in life expectancy and 21st in infant mortality. At least 600,000 people are estimated to be homeless with millions more on the brink of homelessness living in overcrowded and substandard units while paying over 70 percent of their income on rent; and


Federal aid which has traditionally leveraged investment by state and local governments has declined severely at a time when these governmental entities are unable to pick up the slack. In the 1980s, state and local spending on both education and transportation, as a percent of GNP, has been below the level of the 1970s; and


At the same time that the federal government was sharply scaling back its public capital investment, our major world competitors were increasing theirs. Between 1973 and 1985, Japan invested 5.1 percent of its GNP in public capital. America's public investment during the same time period was 0.3 percent. This continuing crisis in public investment threatens America's competitive ability; and


The end of the Cold War creates an historic opportunity to convert a significant amount of America's economic resources from military uses to meeting the pressing needs of our people for universal health care, effective education and library services, affordable housing and the rebuilding of the nation's physical infrastructure; and


The AFL-CI0 has called on Congress to enact legislation that provides adequate planning at the national and local level for economic conversion, including protection and retraining of current workers in military-related production and the participation of labor, management and local leaders in developing conversion plans for specific facilities; and


The hue and cry across this land for a real "peace dividend" is not reflected in the budget deliberations between President Bush and Congressional leaders, which deliberations ignore both the urgent need for economic conversion planning and the opinions of many well-qualified experts that the magnitude of the peace dividend can be far greater than that presently under discussion; and


AFSCME members, as both ;providers and users of essential state and local services, are in a unique position to appreciate the devastating impact of federal budget priorities on working people.


All AFSCME locals and councils place the highest priority on working together with other unions and our allies to mobilize union members and people from all walks of life to bring the maximum pressure to bear on our Congressional representatives to vote for an effective economic conversion plan, and for a peace dividend that would cut the current military budget in half and yield $500 billion over the next five years; and


The peace dividend should be used for investment. in the public sector. Investment in the public sector is vitally important to America's future. Without adequate education, training, and health care and an efficient economic infrastructure, tomorrow's workers will not be able to maintain America's high living standards for themselves, their children, or for tomorrow's retirees.


Dominic J. Badolato, President & Delegate
AFSCME Local 1303, Council 4
New Britain, CT

Helen E. Lee, Delegate
Marilyn R. Kern, Delegate
AFSCME Local 443, Council 28
Olympia, Washington

Marion Porro, Delegate
AFSCME Local 1930, Council 37
New York, NY