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June 15, 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

It goes without saying that it should not take the murders of African-Americans on video to bring it about, but there does appear to be some progress in shifting public opinion on the need for police reform. Of course, we don’t just need reform, we need meaningful, significant reform. All that counts is what is implemented.  Even while these discussions are taking place, a White Atlanta police officer kills a Black man.  Police continue to attack demonstrators, including at least two examples of pushing elderly men to the ground. Statues are coming down, although the obvious question is what took so long.

A number of private companies are going out of their way to say they care about African-Americans, although for me it all seems like PR rhetoric unless they make meaningful changes — in particular, unless they focus their political action work in support of candidates who will truly fight for racial justice, rather than supporting candidates who will increase corporate profits through tax breaks and tax policies that make the rich richer.

While you can probably tell I am skeptical about the progress being reported, a recent Monmouth University poll indicates 76% of Americans–including 71% of white people–say racism and discrimination is “a big problem” in America, a 26-point jump since 2015.  78% say the demonstrations are fully or somewhat justified. Polling on race is often inaccurate as many people do not tell the truth, but a 26-point jump is significant, even if the 76% does not truly represent how exactly Americans feel.

As we fight to make progress real, we must never forget that change begins at home and at AFT Michigan we have begun a series of discussions about what we should be doing as a union.  We have donated money and masks, but that is the easy part.  We will put a Black Lives Matter sign on our building because fighting for racial justice must not end when the issue is no longer garnering headlines.  Most  importantly, we are discussing how best to institutionalize our work fighting for racial justice so it is not a one off, but instead part and parcel of what we do–just like bargaining, political action, organizing, etc.

AFT Michigan will be vigilant in this fight.

Action Needed: Ask Your Friends and Family in Key States to Call their Senators!

The impacts of coronavirus have left our state’s funding for public education in jeopardy, and we need federal support to maintain school, college, and university in the coming years. We know that in order to address the needs of students, education over the next few years will cost more not less. 

We need everyone to help. We know Sen. Gary Peters and Sen. Debbie Stabenow are champions for public education, so the most important thing for Michigan members to do right now is contact your friends and family in key states and have them email and call their senators.  We need folks in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to visit and use the tools there to call and email their senators. Please share this with your friends and family in those states.

Anyone can use this number — 833-868-8109 — to be connected with their senator’s office right away.

The American Federation of Teachers on Friday launched a $1 million ad buy to tell the U.S. Senate to fund, rather than forfeit, the future by passing the HEROES Act so teachers and frontline workers can combat the coronavirus and safely reopen schools and the economy. You can use these links to view the  30-second and 15-second versions of the ad.

DAY OF ACTION – Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice

On Wednesday, June 17, working people from Michigan will join with workers in all 50 states to take part in a Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice, a massive national day of action calling for bold policies to confront the three crises facing America: a public health pandemic, an economic free fall and long-standing structural racism. 

Metro Detroit AFL-CIO would like to invite you to participate in our Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice:

  • When: Wednesday, June 17, 2020
  • Time: STAGING: 12:30 p.m. LAUNCH: 1:00 p.m.
  • Where: START: IBEW Local 58 1358 Abbott St, Detroit, MI 48226 END: Metro Detroit AFL-CIO 115 W. Willis St. Detroit 48201
  • Route: TBD (Points of interest: Michigan Labor Legacy Monument [8 minute 46 second tribute and protest of police brutality], Main Post Office Fort St., Detroit Medical Center)
  • Action Toolkit:

Click here to RSVP.

A National Call for Moral Revival

The AFT is joining the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington, a digital  and social media gathering, on June 20. We know the path to real relief and recovery involves having the resources necessary to reopen our schools and communities safely. Register today.

In 1968,  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the campaign to demand that the 140 million poor and low-income people in our nation—from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place—are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

The Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington will be a historic, generationally transformative digital event. Across the internet and the airwaves, we will drive the vision and agenda of our communities into the heart of the national narrative.

Join with us by registering for the June 20 event, and share the news through social media. On June 20, we will raise our voices again as we join with communities everywhere to demand justice.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide

For an outstanding talk detailing examples of the insidious and systemic racism that permeates society I recommend viewing this speech ( entitled White Rage:  The Unspoken Truth of our Nation’s Divide by Dr. Carol Anderson, Professor and Chair of the African American Studies at Emory University.  Thanks to Staff Representative Agatha Dier for recommending and providing this link.

Remembering HFCC-FT 1650 Founder Bill Hackett

We stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us.  We proudly stand on Bill Hackett’s shoulders.  Bill, a founding member and officer of the Henry Ford Community College Federation of Teachers, has passed away from COVID-19.  HFCC-FT Federation of Teachers President John McDonald says of Bill, “He was a phenomenal teacher, who made history come alive for generations of students.  He was a brilliant historian and community activist. I learned a great deal about professionalism, union solidarity, and strength of character from Bill.”  My personal thanks to John for  providing opportunities for me to have met and talked with Bill.

Robinson Fifth AFT Michigan Member Elected DNC Delegate

Ian Robinson, President of the Lecturer Employees’ Organization, was elected as an At-Large Sanders Delegate to the Democratic Party National Convention.  The vote took place at the Michigan Democratic Party’s State Central meeting this past Saturday.  We previously reported on four other members of AFT Michigan who were elected Biden or Sanders delegates from their congressional districts.  Congratulations to all.

Governor Appoints EMUFT Member to Counseling Board

Governor Whitmer has appointed  Rotesa Baker, a member of the Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers, to the Michigan Board of Counseling.  Congratulations Rotesa.

Webinar on Return to School

Our good friend former Congressman Mark Schauer informs us of a Neighbors for Public Schools webinar, June 18 from 1 to 2 p.m. entitled

“COVID-19 And Public Schools: What Guidelines And Resources Do We Need To Get Schools Back In Session This Fall?”” 

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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