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Resolutions & Amendments

26th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (1984)

Defense Spending

Resolution No. 1
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


The Reagan Administration is seeking an unprecedented peacetime military buildup. The Reagan Administration's Fiscal Year 1985 budget request for national defense spending is greater, even when adjusted for inflation, than defense spending in any other year since World War II, including the years of the Korean and Vietnam wars. If the Reagan Administration has its way, defense spending would climb an additional 25 percent, in inflation adjusted dollars, between 1985 and 1989. By 1989, Department of Defense spending would be 29% higher (after adjustment for inflation) than during the peak of Vietnam when 50,000 American troops were engaged in combat overseas; and


The Reagan Administration's requested budget authority for Fiscal Year 1985 is the cost equivalent of $3,800 for each household in the United States. The Fiscal Year 1985 through 1989 costs for defense are equivalent to $24,000 per household; and


The increase in defense spending since 1981 will add $80 billion to the federal budget deficit by Fiscal Year 1989. Defense spending increases will account for one-third of the expected 1989 deficit of $248 billion; and


This defense buildup is, in effect, being paid for by drastic reductions in vital domestic programs which improve the health, safety and well-being of working people and provide security and protection to the poor and disadvantaged of our society; and


The enormous defense buildup will have a catastrophic impact on the U.S. economy because it will:

  1. Divert scarce resources and skilled scientific and managerial talent away from civilian production needs;
  2. Cause interest rates to remain high by increasing the competition for the investment capital needed to rebuild the U.S. industrial base, and by perpetuating budget deficits. High interest rates are the major factor threatening to derail the economic recovery;
  3. Fuel inflation. Many studies have shown that defense expenditures are the most inflationary form of government spending;
  4. Add nothing to our economy's productive capacity and produce few jobs per dollar invested because of the capital-intensive nature of defense production; and
  5. Put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage with our major trading partners in Europe and Japan who devote less of their capital resources and scientific talent to defense activities; and


The national security of the United States cannot be measured merely in terms of weapons capabilities and strategic military strength; a strong and growing industrial base, a modem, reliable public infrastructure, a full-employment economy with a healthy balance of trade and a reduced dependence on foreign energy resources are all equally vital ingredients of our national security.


That AFSCME, while reaffirming its commitment to and support for a defense network that ensures protection for the United States from any and all adversaries, opposes the unwarranted, inflationary, and unjustified defense spending buildup proposed by the Reagan Administration. In order to assure that defense expenditures are prudently managed, and to encourage the setting of priorities for an effective defense, the defense budget should be reduced with guaranteed retraining for those affected; and


That AFSCME supports the concept of orderly, planned economic conversion. AFSCME should work with other unions and community organizations to begin formulating plans for alternative uses of defense installations and production facilities that might be closed for the sake of efficiency, including plans for the economic redevelopment of communities that would be adversely affected by such closings, and for the retraining of workers displaced by those actions; and


That the funds that are saved from scaling back the Reagan Administration's excessive military spending program be redirected to build affordable housing, provide quality education for everyone, develop job training programs, provide jobs for the unemployed, repair and expand urban mass transit, provide low cost medical care for all and restore the cuts that have been made in recent years in all other social and economic programs; and


That AFSCME continue to work with coalitions, such as Jobs With Peace and the Coalition on Block Grants and Human Needs Defense Budget Project that are committed to these same goals.


Edward J. Keller, Delegate
Local 632, Council
International Vice-President
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Carolyn Samson, President
Norman Snyder, Secretary
AFSCME Local 707, Council 14
St. Paul, Minnesota

Louise DeBow, DC 37 Women's Committee
Delegate Local 420
Sean McDonald, Delegate Local 2053
Victor Gotbaum, International Vice President and Executive
Director Council 37
New York, New York

Margaret K. Jones, President
Gary Linger, Secretary
Local 1164, Council 6
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jason Justice, Jr. , President
Nancy Martinez, Recording Secretary
Loca1 1624
Austin, Texas

John P. Foster, President
Mary Hastings, Secretary
Council 14
St. Paul, Minnesota