We support those who support us.
Political action is imperative for two reasons: To elect friends of public education and preK-12 and higher education employees, and to pass or defeat ballot proposals that affect education and our members
In the selection of candidates for whom we will support we, through locals unions, survey members to determine issues they feel most strongly about and those of the greatest importance to them. This is done in the spring of even numbered years.
Decisions are made based on information about the candidate’s background, voting record, public platform and through personal interviews. We also are involved with the decision making process with the state and local AFL-CIO, and AFT in presidential races. As AFT Michigan makes determinations that are issue based, support may be given to candidates of both major parties.
The final vote to endorse is made by the AFT Michigan Administrative Board. This list of endorsements includes candidates running for U.S. Congress, the Michigan Legislation, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and education boards.
AFT Michigan is actively involved in ballot proposals that affect our members. For example, in 2000 the state federation and our locals played a major role in defeating public school vouchers. In 2002, we were involved in defeating the proposal to take tobacco settlement money out of public education.
Supporting endorsed candidates and impacting the outcome on ballot proposals involves educating members, mobilizing members to actively support these candidates or initiatives, and raising political action funds.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
AFT Michigan maintains a Political Action Committee (PAC) that collects voluntary contributions from members that are used to support candidates at the state level who support our issues. The AFT raises PAC funds to support candidates at the federal level and makes contributions to Michigan candidates upon the recommendations of AFT Michigan. Many locals maintain their own PAC, again funded through the generous voluntary contributions of its members. Most often these funds are used to support local candidates that impact their school district, particularly local school board candidates.
Locals usually run a PAC fundraising drive once a year, yet, some prefer to raise funds in both the fall and spring. No regulations restrict how many times a union can collect only how these funds can be collected. Regardless of what union is collecting the contributions the state requires the name and address of each contributor. It is therefore best to make contributions by check, on which the information is printed, or through payroll deduction.
Only PAC money can by given in support of candidates. Money collected for the purpose of political action must be kept by the union in a separate account and cannot be collected with or as part of member dues.
It Takes a Team, and you build it Member-to-Member
How do you communicate important information within the union membership? How do you act quickly to call a meeting or get people out to support a contract or attend a political rally?
The answer is having Member-to-Member (M2M) system in place. Member-to-Member is not “another program.” It is how a local union should operate.
Having a Member-to-Member campaign gives the local union the ability to organize and act quickly on issues. This is the basis for enhancing our bargaining, political and legislative power. M2M also gives the ability to be proactive, visible and involve members through face-to-face communication this ensures that every member has been contacted, and is aware of the work that is being done to further enhance public education and public services.
What is a Member-to-Member System?
In its most simple form think of a “phone tree” where the President makes five calls to the other members of the union Executive Committee. Each Executive Committee calls 1-5 Building Reps; each Building Rep. (with the help of assistants) contacts all the members in their building. In a very short time all the members in a union have been contacted and everybody only has to make a few contacts.
Each local is unique and how it organizes a Member-to-Member system will have to match that uniqueness. AFT Michigan will be happy to help you organize a Member-to-Member system and train the participants. Call or e-mail Nikhol Atkins at 313-393-2200 or email@example.com for assistance.
AFT Michigan uses the Member-to-Member system for distributing information in the form of flyers on issues and candidates who support our issues. We also collect information on what issues are important to the membership, what you would like to see offered in Professional Development and other information.
Join the League of Extraordinary Educators
The League of Extraordinary Educators is a solidarity campaign from AFT Michigan which organizes and mobilizes our union to take action politically, legislatively, and in the community.
The League will be made up of staff, retirees, teachers, faculty, and grad employees bursting out of our comfort zones to reclaim the promise of public education in Michigan.
Members of the League will be asked to make calls, knock on doors, connect with community allies, raise funds, receive & send text messages, talk to coworkers & neighbors, march in solidarity with other workers, and *whatever* else is needed to win in November & beyond.
We transform ourselves with the greatest superpower we have: EACH OTHER!