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Resolutions & Amendments

33rd International Convention - Honolulu, HI (1998)

Defend Affirmative Action and Defeat Washington State Initiative 200

Resolution No. 22
33rd International Convention
August 24-28, 1998
Honolulu, HI


Washington State Initiative 200 (I-200), which is deceptively called a "Civil Rights Initiative," seeks to end all affirmative action for women and people of color in school admissions, public employment, and public contracting; and


Affirmative action strengthens labor solidarity and has laid the basis for a more egalitarian workplace by helping to break down favoritism and race and sex prejudice, allowing everyone to compete for jobs based on their qualifications, not "who they know;" and


The defense of affirmative action for women and people of color in public service is of paramount importance because these groups constitute the fastest growing sector of organized labor and are playing a crucial role in revitalizing the union movement; and


I-200 is racist and sexist because it targets women and people of color while leaving intact affirmative action programs based on disability, veteran status and age-the only provisions which benefit white males; and


I-200 propaganda about reverse discrimination is not true-such claims rarely have enough merit to go to trial-and is an effort to scapegoat women and workers of color for the real problems of a dysfunctional economic system: high unemployment, deteriorating working conditions, falling wages, and the loss of union-wage jobs to privatization and NAFTA; and


I-200's financial backers are right-wing conservatives whose divide-and-conquer tactics are aimed at union-busting and protecting the profits corporations make from discrimination, not at creating a "colorblind" society; and


Affirmative action rollbacks in California have had a devastating impact in 1998 on educational opportunity, resulting in a 54% decline in African American enrollment at UC Berkeley and a 40% decline at UCLA, while Hispanic enrollment declined 55% at UC Berkeley and 27% at UCLA.1


That AFSCME strongly reaffirms its commitment to defend existing affirmative action programs by defeating I-200; and


That AFSCME commit to waging a successful campaign against I-200 in coalition with other union, civil rights and community organizations in Washington State.


Matthew Davenhall, President and Delegate 
Rodolfo Franco, Secretary Treasurer and Delegate 
AFSCME Local 304, Council 28

1"Black, Hispanic enrollment down at University of California" by Rene Sanchez, The Washington Post, reprinted in the Thursday, May 21, 1998 Seattle Times.