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April 27, 2020

Legal Victory for Detroit’s Students

Last week, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Detroit students have a fundamental right to access to literacy and that “without the literacy provided by a basic minimum education, it is impossible to participate in our democracy.” In a joint statement put out by the DFT, AFT Michigan and AFT, AFT President Randi Weingarten stated: “We have always believed that every child, regardless of geography or demography, has a fundamental right to a basic promise for their future—that they have the right to dream dreams and have those dreams realized. With this decision, that basic right is recognized for the children of Detroit and across Michigan.”  I noted that: “We have to take the court’s decision that education and literacy are fundamental rights and make it reality. Today is one step toward a more equitable future for the public schools at the heart of our Michigan communities.”  Detroit Teachers President Terrence Martin was emphatic: “Detroit’s children deserve better than underfunded and neglected public schools. This decision has gotten us closer to the goal line of a future where parents send their kids to Detroit’s schools and know they’re going to learn how to read at grade level, a fundamental and basic right that we owe it to them to meet.”

Stay Safe as We Go Back to Work

When members of the Hamtramck Federation of Teachers were told they had to begin delivering educational resources to students last week without proper protective equipment, we made a rush order to get masks for them over the weekend. While we believe it is every employer’s responsibility to provide adequate personal protective equipment to every employee assigned tasks outside of their home, we want to make sure that no member is exposed in the meantime. For emergencies like HFT members were facing, we’ve ordered a limited number of masks–local leaders can contact their AFT Michigan Field Representative to request some.

AFT Tuesday Telephone Town Hall 

Tomorrow’s AFT Telephone Town Hall will feature Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala. Sen. Warren has been a champion of ours for many years and has led the charge to make sure working people are included in the various relief bills that have been passed. Rep. Shalala serves on the oversight commission monitoring how relief funds are spent. Together, these two leaders can speak to the real nitty-gritty of how we’re going to see our way through this crisis—economically, politically and as communities. And they’ll spend time talking specifically about how we tackle state and local funding and the support that state budgets, including worker pensions, will need to weather this storm. 

If you already have signed up to be on every call, you’ll be automatically included in this one. And if you haven’t signed up yet, you can register here. The call will be on Tuesday, April 28, at 6:45 pm. 


On April 28, the Labor Movement will be commemorating Workers Memorial Day, where we remember fellow workers who have either been injured or killed while at work. This year also happens to be the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Legislation that created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

AFT is disappointed that OSHA has failed to ensure that our front-line workers are protected from Coronavirus exposures at work. Recently, OSHA has indicated that it is simply relying on an employer’s best effort to protect workers during this pandemic.  This is far from what the mission of the agency is and far from what it should be.   

Upcoming Professional Development

AFT Michigan

Helping Students Struggling with Mental Health – Virtual Workshop

May 2, 2020

9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This workshop will provide interaction strategies that help educators maintain a workable relationship with learners who are experiencing mental health challenges.

Click here to register.

AFT Professional Development  

Distance Learning & ELLs: What Have We Learned So Far?

Thursday, April 30, at 3 p.m. EDT

Although distance learning has quickly become the default solution for the more than 54 million students displaced by school closures, it is estimated that 25-50 percent of the 5 million English language learners around the country either do not have the appropriate technology devices needed for online learning or access to the internet. Join us to learn more about some best practices we are seeing thus far for both groups of ELLs—those with Internet access and those without. Register now

Members that COVID-19 Has Taken from Us

  • John Elliott, Detroit Federation of Teachers (former President & AFT Michigan Administrative Board member)
  • Marilyn Horace-Moore, Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers (former Treasurer)
  • Roslyn Johnson, Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals
  • Charlene Smith, Detroit Federation of Teachers (former Executive Board member)
  • Ricardo Smith, Association of Adjunct Faculty at Macomb Community College
  • Darla Swint, Hamtramck Fed of Teachers (retired Paraprofessional)
  • Linda Wilkins, Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals
  • Art Williams, Wayne County Community College Federation of Teachers (former Executive Board member)
  • Thomas Wilson, Detroit Federation of Teachers

AFT Michigan will honor our members who have died by recognizing them in words, and by continuing our work for educational, racial, and economic justice. If you know of an active or retired member who should be listed, please email

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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