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Resolutions & Amendments

45th International Convention - Philadelphia (2022)

Use American Rescue Plan Funds to Strengthen the Public Sector Workforce

Resolution No. 3


The coronavirus pandemic has imposed an unprecedented strain on public sector finances to cover the costs of fighting COVID-19, deliver effective public services despite health-related restrictions, help struggling families and businesses, and address inequities that worsened the pandemic’s impact; and


Many of the substantial costs and challenges confronting public sector employers will continue in the years ahead as millions of Americans, particularly lower-income households and people of color, struggle with hunger, have large unpaid bills, face mental health challenges or are enduring other forms of extreme hardship; and


State and local government sector employment fell by 1.5 million jobs at the height of the economic shutdown amid sharp declines in revenue and remains over 950,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels. As the Great Recession demonstrated, austerity among state and local governments can hamper overall economic growth and severely curtail the ability of governments to effectively provide the critical public services their communities rely on; and


Public sector workers repeatedly and selflessly stepped up with great courage and personal sacrifice to protect and serve their communities throughout the pandemic and yet more than half report that they are considering leaving their jobs with the top reasons cited being burnout and low pay. Unsafe working conditions, high stress and other pandemic-related factors have turned challenging and meaningful work into a full-blown crisis, with eight in 10 public sector workers reporting that staffing shortages are making their jobs harder; and


The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides $350 billion in flexible, direct aid to state and local governments to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency. The ARP provided K-12 and higher education with additional funding as well as funds to support hospitals, child care providers, public transit and community mental health and substance abuse services.


Public sector employers must avoid the disastrous austerity measures of the Great Recession and seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the trajectory of their communities by directly addressing the chronic underinvestment in the public sector workforce and laying the foundation for a strong, equitable recovery through investments that support long-term growth and opportunity; and


Public sector employers should utilize ARP’s unprecedented amount of fiscal recovery funds to the maximum extent possible and without further delay to sustain quality government services; to restore and bolster public sector capacity by rehiring staff and compensating workers who experienced pay reductions or were furloughed; to improve compensation levels to account for inflation; to prevent layoffs and provide worker retention incentives; and to provide premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work.

Lois Carson, President
Sandy Wheeler, Secretary