Sen. Kamala Harris Visits Michigan as part of #AFTVotes Endorsement Process
On Monday, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) visited Miller Elementary in Dearborn and the Academy of the Americas in Detroit, and then participated in a town hall with more than 250 AFT Michigan members at Marcus Garvey Academy (which was also streamed live on Facebook). This visit was one in a series that AFT is hosting with candidates in locations around the country to make sure the candidates are hearing directly from members about what is important to us. If you are interested in learning more about the AFT endorsement process, you can visit aftvotes.org. A big thank you to the staff at Miller, Academy of the Americas and Marcus Garvey, who were great hosts and of course everyone who came out to the town hall and participated. I know a lot of people appreciated getting to see what Senator Harris was like in person – after spending a good chunk of the day with her, I can confirm that she really is as smart and genuine as she comes across and really engaged with the students and staff at each visit. I’m looking forward to hearing from the other candidates as part of this process and encourage everyone to try to check out the livestreams of these #AFTvotes events going forward.
Bills Signed on Student Growth Percentage for Educator Evaluation
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed last week SB 122 and 202, introduced by Republican Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth). These bills, for which AFT Michigan lobbied in support, maintain the percentage of student growth in educator evaluations at 25 percent. The bills have immediate effect.
Forgiveness of School Cancellation for State of Emergency Days Sent to Governor
HB 4208, sponsored by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), was passed by the House and Senate last week, and given immediate effect. While the House originally passed a version of this bill that ensured all staff, including hourly workers, would be paid for cancelled school days, the Michigan Senate stripped this language and sent it back to the House. The bill which ultimately earned majority support in both chambers does not include this provision, and only applies to this current school year.
AFT Michigan and AFSCME Council 25 lobbied extensively to include protections for hourly worker pay; however, Republican legislators in the Senate vehemently opposed the provision. Our work to ensure fairness for school support staff is not over. If you are an hourly worker not being paid for cancelled school days, please email Julie Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MSU GEU Reaches Tentative Agreement
The Graduate Employees Union at MSU reached an agreement on a new contract early last Friday morning. Key to the settlement was an engaged membership directly involved in the bargaining process. Issue teams researched and presented proposals to management, and stewards organized members to engage in actions to let the university administration know what members wanted. Housing costs were a major concern, following the elimination of most of the on-campus graduate housing in recent years. Members erected tent cities at various locations around campus to let the MSU community know about their plight and political leaders from the Lansing area spoke at a rally Thursday in support of the GEU members. While MSU originally offered only a 2% increase in minimum salaries and a 6% across the board raise spread over four years, the efforts of members resulted in a TA that includes a 17.5% increase in minimums and 8% across the board over 4 years, which will dramatically help the lowest-paid members of the unit. The membership fought hard for a voice in making changes to policies around sexual harassment and bullying and gained representation on the committee reforming these policies university-wide. International students came to the table with deep concerns over speaking tests that were failing people at an alarming rate and were able to get the university to change many practices in this area. The TA also helps make MSU more welcoming to parents, with wins including new emergency childcare services and larger stipends for dependent healthcare. Congratulations to all involved.
WSU RiseUp Detroit Website
WSU is launching a new website regarding civil rights in Detroit called RiseUp Detroit.
Also part of this website will be a teacher plan, so if you know of any members that would be interested in this send them the info as well.