June 24, 2020
AFT Michigan Convention Report
Our first (and hopefully only) virtual Convention officially adjourned Monday afternoon after receiving the report of the Nominations & Elections Committee. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Convention – I think we had a record number of locals who attended this year – and particularly everyone who served on committees, worked on resolutions, and of course all of our staff who helped it run smoothly.
The resolutions approved by delegates are available on our website: https://aftmichigan.org/conventions-and-resolutions/
The 2020-22 officers of the Administrative Board elected by delegates are listed below:
Vice Presidents – DFT #231
Vice President – Higher Education
Jodi Monday, AAFMCC #6533
Vice President – Graduate Employees
Emily Gauld, UM GEO #3550
Vice President – Outstate Local
Mary Bacon, Ferris Non-Tenure Faculty #6528
Vice President – PSRP
Donna Jackson, Detroit Fed of Paras #2350
Vice President – Retiree Local
Angela Johnson, DFT Retiree Chapter #231R
Vice Presidents – Non-reserved
Zena Addae, Michigan ACTS #6482
Michelle Cook, Hamtramck Teachers #1052
Michelle Kirk, Melvindale/NAP Teachers #1051
Jane Mazza, Dearborn Teachers #681
Linda Moore, Taylor Teachers #1085
Christian Nwamba, WCCCFT #2000
Charlie Parrish, WSU AAUP-AFT #6075
Ian Robinson, UM LEO #6244
Lincoln Stocks, Eastpointe Fed of Educators #698
Daric Thorne, EMUFT #9102
Susan Titus, WSU UPTF #477
Jeff Whittle, Macomb ISD Paras #6216
Terrence Martin, DFT #231, and John McDonald, HFCCFT #1650, also serve on our Board by virtue of their positions as AFT National Vice-Presidents.
Congratulations to all those elected and thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving another term as AFT Michigan President. As I said at the Convention, there are going to be a lot of tough fights ahead and I can’t promise that we’ll win them all. But I can promise that I will work as hard as I can with you every step of the way to find the best possible outcomes for our members, our students, and our communities.
And a special thank you to TaShaune Harden of Michigan ACTS and Sarah Walker of GEOC at Wayne State, who were both fantastic and engaged members of our board and are leaving the board to do great things in the world.
Metro Detroit AFL-CIO Candidate Endorsement Screening
It’s that time of year again, candidate endorsement screening time. The Metro Detroit AFL-CIO is inviting AFT Michigan union members who live or work in the City of Detroit or the counties of Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne to participate in the candidate screening process. The screenings will take place virtually via Zoom, this week and next, between the hours of 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Contact Nikhol Atkins, AFT Michigan Member & Community Mobilizer, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to participate.
MEJC Listening Sessions
The Michigan Education Justice Coalition (MEJC), of which AFT Michigan is a founding member, is hosting listening sessions with educators, parents, students, and community leaders across the state. Why? To build and strengthen relationships, to learn together, and to build POWER for education justice, in our local communities and in our state. Contact Nikhol Atkins, AFT Michigan Member & Community Mobilizer, at email@example.com if you’d like to express your concerns and hear from others about education.
Nessel, Whitmer Join Lawsuit Against Betsy DeVos for Violating Title IX
Michigan filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos with 17 other states challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s final rule for violating Title IX and weakening protections for sexual assault and harassment survivors. Attorney General Dana Nessel, in coordination with Governor Gretchen Whitmer, join the lawsuit on June 5. If the rule goes into effect, it will weaken protections for students who survive sexual from kindergarten through college.
“I find it appalling that the Department of Education would spend its time and resources on weakening protections for sexual assault and harassment victims on school campuses here in Michigan and across this nation. This is a blatant disregard for the pain and fear victims of sexual assault and harassment face, and discourages reporting of these offenses,” Nessel said in a statement.
“The fact of the matter is this: the final rule will make educational institutions less safe and diminish their ability to promptly deter, stop and prevent sexual harassment and violence. That reason alone is enough for Governor Whitmer and I to protect our students and join this lawsuit as the State of Michigan.”
Whitmer added in a statement, “As a survivor and a mother, it pains me to see how these new rules will water down Title IX protections for our students, which is why Michigan is joining several other states in challenging these new rules.”
For the past several weeks, the primary focus for Michigan Legislators has been to address the revenue shortfall expected for the state budget, particularly the shortfall in the School Aid Fund. Legislators are working on multiple contingencies, but it is clear that preserving public PreK-12 and higher education in Michigan will require federal aid. If you have not already done so, please visit http://allin.rtp.aft.org/heroesact to contact our Michigan senators, and especially ask your friends and family in other states to also write their senators and express the need for federal aid to states.
Very little legislative activity has happened outside of budget conversations in recent weeks. However, a few education policy bills have received hearings:
- SB 657: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Lana Theis, would allow people to pursue an alternative teacher certificate for special education in a manner similar to all other specialization areas. The bill was amended in the House Education Committee to include a 7-year sunset to allow for the evaluation of the effectiveness of the alternative certification program for special education teachers. The amendment, offered by Rep. Darrin Camilleri, was supported by AFT Michigan, though our union has not taken a formal position on the bill. The bill passed the House Education Committee, and now awaits action in the House Ways and Means Committee, which currently has a tremendous backlog of legislation to work through.
- HB 5603: This bill would create the Oversight of Higher Education Act, which would establish the Office of the Higher Education Ombudsman in the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The Higher Education Ombudsman would be appointed by the governor, and have a broad range of powers, including opening investigations, and compelling interviews or testimony at public and private hearings of any individual through broad subpoena powers. The bill is currently stalled in the House Education Committee, and does not appear to have the necessary support to leave committee at this time.
- HB 5482: This bill, sponsored by Rep. Andrea Schroeder, would create a Save Our Students Act, requiring that the telephone number for a suicide prevention hotline be printed on student ID cards. The bill passed the House Education committee unanimously, and awaits action in the House Ways and Means Committee.
David Hecker, President