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February 10, 2020

Sign Up Now for Tuesday’s Teletown Hall with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

We are so excited to invite you to a Tele-Town Hall with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday, February 11, at 6:15 p.m.

Secretary Benson, who is also a member of AFT Michigan, is going to explain some of the changes to Michigan election law to make voting easier and more accessible in Michigan, particularly the implementation of same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. There will also be discussion of the State Department’s work to implement the Independent Redistricting Commission required in Proposal 2 of 2018.

We will call all members for whom we have valid landline phone numbers. To ensure we have the right phone number for you or to have us call you on your cell phone number, please complete this form by Tuesday, February 11, at 11 am.

Whitmer Administration Presents FY 2021 Budget Proposal to Legislature

Last week, State Budget Director Chris Kolb presented Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal for the state budget for the next fiscal year. In addition to her priority of fixing Michigan roads, Whitmer’s second budget proposal reflects her dedication to investing in public education at all levels.

Her proposal includes a per-pupil increase of $150-$225, with districts currently receiving the lowest per-pupil amount receiving the highest increase. In addition, she uses a weighted formula to direct increased funding to students with special needs, economically disadvantaged students and English language learners. The Governor’s proposal also increases funding for students in the Great Start Readiness program by $1,086 and expands the number of families eligible for the GSRP program. The Governor also created a separate $25 million dollar fund to reimburse teachers directly for out-of-pocket costs they incur for classroom supplies, with a maximum allotment of $250 per teacher. Her proposed budget also includes a $40 million fund for competitive grants for school infrastructure needs. Governor Whitmer’s budget also increases community college and higher education funding by 2.5 percent, providing the same percentage increase to each institution. The budget presentation also emphasized the Governor’s request that the Legislature pass the funding bill to create the Michigan Reconnect Program, which would provide free tuition for non-traditional students at Michigan community colleges.

More details on the budget can be found here.

I issued a statement thanking the Governor for her proposed investment in the future of our state, which you can find here.

Report from Union-Building Institute III

A great group of leaders gathered at UM-Dearborn this weekend for our third and final Union-Building Institute of the year. In addition to the impressive group of first-timers in attendance, and of course our staff who put these events on, I want to particularly recognize 12 very special local activists who attended all three Institutes this year: Tim Allen, EMUFT; April Anthony, Detroit Teachers; Bashair Istefan, Utica FT; Bill Norris, HFC-AFO; Carlotta Taylor, Detroit Paras; Emily Gauld, UM-GEO; Karen LeVeck, Roseville; Karin Tarpenning, WSU-UPTF/AAFMCC; Mistie Ryan, Lake Shore Teachers; Nancy Sterniak, WCCCD 2000; Nancy Welter, WSU-UPTF; Ted Gitter, Roseville.

On Sunday, teams from 12 locals came back to work on their local financial reviews with the assistance of Chuck and Rickia from our financial department. To be in good standing to attend the national Convention, your local needs to get your review or audit done and turned into the AFT this spring. We can do similar work sessions over the next few months if a group of locals can agree on a place and time – email rrobertson@aftmichigan.org with questions.

Tiffany LeCouffe-Bens, Treasurer of the Lake Shore Federation of Teachers, sent in a wonderful testimonial that we wanted to share: “This weekend I attended my FIRST treasurer training conference. Although initially apprehensive, it proved to be the most invaluable tool I have in my treasurer’s tool box to date. Chuck and Rickia are a dynamic, knowledgeable and personable team who work together to get the job done. I would recommend every Executive Council participate and utilize the great support of this dynamic team.” 

Support Marriott Workers

We walked the picket line last year with striking Marriott workers, members of UNITEHERE!, as they won significant gains.  Now we need to help save their jobs. Marriott’s Green Choice/Your Choice program offers guests points or incentives to forgo daily housekeeping.  UNITEHERE! reports that no environmental studies  recommend skilling housekeeping as a sustainable option.  But it does eliminate jobs.

Please join the Sierra Club who is refusing Green Choice and calling for a sustainable program that does not hurt women workers by signing this pledge at http://www.RefuseGreenChoice.org/.

AFT Supports Charter School Accountability Act

AFT has come out in support of The Charter Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency Act (COAT) introduced by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit). This legislation would require private companies running charter schools to disclose: the dollar amount and percentage breakdown of money being used by the private company on the operations of the school; the dollar amounts and percentage breakdown of money being used on the operations of the private company; and the dollar amounts every private company executive is earning in salary, including bonuses.  Thank you to our Congresswoman Tlaib for introducing this legislation.

MI Supreme Court Waiting for U.S. Supreme Court Voucher Ruling

The Michigan Supreme Court has decided not to rule on the lawsuit challenging the state’s allocation under Governor Snyder of public monies for private schools until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Espinoza case concerning school vouchers.  AFT Michigan has been strong supporters of the Michigan case challenging the use of public funds for private schools. Given the political make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court there is much concern about the outcome of the Espinoza case.

Why America needs the PRO Act

The American Prospect published an op-ed co-authored by AFT President Randi Weingarten and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Sara Nelson in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. This bill would remove barriers for workers and enable them to organize, form unions and engage in collective bargaining. Weingarten and Nelson stress that “Good labor laws set a standard for how working people should be treated in an economy where there are countless laws already on the books to protect the rich and powerful.” The U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure on Feb. 6.

In Solidarity,

David Hecker, President

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