December 16, 2019
Happy New Year!
Whether or not you celebrate a holiday in the coming weeks, everyone deserves the time you have off. You work hard and we hope you enjoy the season with family and friends. My wife and I will be off to Los Angeles to visit with our daughter and attend a family wedding.
The AFT Michigan office will be closed from December 23 – January 3. If necessary, we are available through our cell phones or by email.
Enjoy and Happy New Year from AFT Michigan!
Register Now for the February Union Building Institute!
Our final Union Building Institute of the school year will be February 8 at UM Dearborn-Fairlane Center North! You can sign up now by following this link.
In addition to the four core courses:
- Union Foundations
- Member Organizing
- Collective Bargaining & Contract Enforcement
- Coalitions & Political Action
We will also offer advanced workshops on:
- Analyzing Employer Finances and Costing Our Proposals
- Advanced Grievance-Handling: Presenting Second & Third Step Grievances
- Building Relationships with Employer Boards to Win Better Contracts
If you are a relatively new leader in your local, particularly in a role such as building rep or steward, we recommend starting with either Member Organizing 101 and/or Collective Bargaining & Contract Enforcement 101. And with less than a year to go before the general election, we hope as many locals as possible will be represented in the Coalitions & Political Action workshop!
P.S. On Sunday, February 9, we are holding a Local Financial Review Workshop for members of financial review committees to complete the yearly task in a supportive environment. This is open only to local financial review committee members and treasurers.
AFT Michigan Activists Attend Presidential Public Education Forum
Over the weekend, AFT, the National Education Association, NAACP, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, along with other labor and community allies joined together to host the Public Education Forum 2020 with Democratic presidential candidates.
AFT Michigan local political coordinators were offered the opportunity to attend the forum.
Isaac Pickell, political coordinator of the Graduate Employees Organizing Committee at Wayne State University, attended the forum and was able to ask a question of candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the topic of pay and job security for graduate and adjunct higher education professionals. Pickell said he appreciated Warren’s response as thorough as it identified several ways to make systemic change to improve higher education. He was hopeful all the candidates would work to address the need to provide a living wage to graduate employees and adjuncts.
Sue Ladach, political coordinator at the Dearborn Federation of Teachers, reports that attending the forum was a powerful experience. “I was able to get a close up view of the candidates and hear them answer some very tough questions on education and equity for all students in education,” Ladach said. “I got to hear for myself those candidates who would stick to their talking points and those that had done their homework on what the American people were concerned about.”
Caleb Smith, political coordinator at the Macomb ISD Federation of Teachers, also said attending the forum was a fantastic experience. “I was able to hear firsthand, the tough questions asked to the candidates from our members and other union members from across the country,” Smith said. “Questions regarding poverty, Title I funding, fully funding IDEA, ending high stakes testing, addressing student loan debt, the importance of Early On education and support staff was discussed from the candidates’ perspective. I know one thing for sure, all the candidates who came to the forum will stand up for our students and our profession!”
This forum is part of AFT’s long term process to engage members in its’ presidential endorsement process. To view video of the forum or to share your thoughts on AFT’s endorsement process, please visit www.AFTVotes.org.
In the News: Northern Locals Distributing Books via First Book
Great coverage of our work in the Sault News this weekend. Check out the full article at https://www.sooeveningnews.com/news/20191213/aft-michigan-providing-thousands-of-books-to-eup-educators
Well-deserved recognition of our northern leaders and Field Rep, Gary Wellnitz, who has been spearheading the effort and was quoted in the article:
“As a former teacher and school administrator for 30 years in Cedarville, it brought me great pleasure to bring approximately half of the $135,000 grant money to the EUP for use in local schools, Les Cheneaux Library, Sault Tribal centers, Mackinac County Sheriff, and other departments,” he said…“We just had a giveaway at the Les Cheneaux holiday concert and similar giveaways will occur in Rudyard, Whitefish, and at the Sault Tribal centers from Newberry to Drummond Island. Additionally, we have provided $150 per educator willing to order books plus thousands of dollars to Administrators and community activists to help stock classroom libraries and get books into the homes of children in need. The mission of First Book and AFT Michigan is to do whatever we can to promote literacy in our schools and communities. We understand the crisis we are in and the importance of literacy to our nation.”
(More) Evidence that Michigan is Failing to Fund Education
The Century Foundation has released another report documenting Michigan’s inadequate funding of higher education–this time, in comparison with neighboring states.
- We lead in one area: Michigan public university bachelor’s degree graduates have the highest average student debt in the Great Lakes region, taking on about $25,000 in debt by graduation
- Regarding the percent of the state budget devoted to four-year universities, the average in the region is 10% while in Michigan it is 4%
- This year’s appropriation does not keep pace with inflation and was about 2.5% below what Gov. Whitmer requested
- State aid per student is at $4,700 compared to the average of $5,800 elsewhere
Read the full report at: https://tcf.org/content/report/michigans-college-affordability-regional-context/
Legislature Sends Final Budget Supplemental to Governor Whitmer
During the flurry of activity during the last week of session for the Michigan Legislature for the year, bills to finalize the state’s budget for the year were passed in both chambers. The bills, SB 152 and 154, total $573.5 million dollars and restore and restructure funding for items vetoed after the Republican-controlled Legislature sent budget bills to the governor after stopping negotiations with her. Click here for a summary of SB 152 and SB 154.
Included in the final budget deal:
- $35 million to provide charter schools with the same $240 per pupil increase provided to public schools.
- $7 million to supplement funding for small and geographically isolated school districts.
- $10.5 million to increase state funding for literacy coaches and reduce the local matching requirement.
- $5 million for grants for districts to provide summer school reading programs for third grade students not proficient on the 2019 ELA MSTEP. Programs could also be extended to students K-2 not reading at grade level.
- $1 million for Autism Navigator.
David Hecker, President