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July 13, 2020

UM Physician Assistants Organize with AFT Michigan!

UPAMM Virtual Organizing Committee Meeting

AFT Michigan’s newest local is  a union of Physician Assistants (PAs) at the University of Michigan!

The union—United Physician Assistants of Michigan Medicine (UPAMM/AFT)—was recognized by UM following adoption of a new policy by the UM Board of Regents that allows for majority recognition (also called “card check”).  Once a third party verified that a clear majority of the 337 PAs had signed a petition designating the organization as a collective bargaining agent, the union was officially recognized by UM on June 30!

Physician Assistants are licensed medical providers who diagnose and treat illness. Although “assistant” is part of the title, PAs rarely simply assist physicians. They work with significant autonomy in general medicine as well as in the specialty departments of Michigan Medicine, providing nearly all of the clinical services that a physician does.

Many PAs supported organizing because they saw that union practitioners in the hospital had significantly better benefits, but “We also organized simply to have a voice,” said UPAMM Organizing Committee Chair Jill Hasen, a PA in Orthopedic Oncology. “For many years, PAs have felt left out of the decisions that affect our lives and our ability to provide the best patient care.”

AFT and AFL-CIO: Fighting Back for International Student Workers

This morning, the AFT and several other unions filed an amicus brief asking for an injunction blocking ICE’s unfair new guidelines targeting international students. You can read the brief here:

Union staff and activists from around the country will discuss what the new ICE guidance means for international student workers, what is happening with the legal challenge, and what else we can do together to push back against these xenophobic policies on a webinar: Tuesday, July 14, 4:00-5:30 ET. Register Here.

AFT Michigan Endorsements for the August Primary Election

Our primary election is coming up on August 4. Hopefully you have requested (and perhaps already received) your absentee ballot. For a list of our endorsed candidates for the August primary go to:

Racial Inequity:  Facts and Figures

New Detroit recently released its Racial Equity report.  While many of these numbers will not be a surprise, having the specific facts is valuable as we fight for racial justice.  You can link to the report at

Help AFT Michigan Move Our Union-Building Program Online

Are you an AFT Michigan member with expertise in online learning who loves the labor movement?

If so, your union needs you! AFT Michigan will be moving our Union-Building training series fully online for at least a major portion of this school year because of the pandemic and we want to make sure we convert our existing workshops as thoughtfully as possible. We know we have many members across the state who are experts in online education already and we would like to tap into your knowledge in one of two roles:

  • Being part of our ad hoc Online Training Advisory Group (meet occasionally and offer guidance on how we move forward); and/or
  • As a consultant who would contract with us to help develop our 2020-21 course calendar, train AFT Michigan staff, set up templates and/or platforms, and generally support our conversion and rollout plans.

If you are interested, please email Dave Dobbie at Include “Online Training” in the subject line and let us know if you would be interested in the Advisory Group, contracting as a consultant, or both. 

AFT Michigan Unemployment Resource Center 

Michigan’s unemployment insurance system is confusing in many ways, particularly involving education employees.  Some of our members, particularly nontenure-track faculty, have been navigating this system for years, while the pandemic has of course created a much larger need – often including school support staff.

To help local leaders and members more confidently navigate the Michigan Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, we have developed an Unemployment Resource Center on our website. Ultimately, each member must make individual decisions about whether and how to apply for unemployment benefits based on their specific situation, but AFT Michigan works with the Sugar Law Center for Social & Economic Justice to provide support to locals and members in understanding your choices and possible strategies. We hope locals will create a Local Unemployment Advocate position to be trained and supported by Sugar Law and our staff and then provide a first line of support for members applying for benefits. 

If you are an AFT Michigan member and have questions or suggestions for other resources to add to this page, contact

Share Your Distance Learning Experiences

Our partner organization, Launch Michigan, has just announced a major statewide survey of our state’s high school educators, parents, and community leaders. Through this effort, we hope to learn more about our shared distance learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on 9th-12th grade teachers for the survey.  The surveys are being conducted by Lansing-based Public Policy Associates in collaboration with the Education Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) at Michigan State University.  Another project will be polling elementary and middle school teachers.

The survey closes on July 31. We hope you’ll take part! If you have questions, please reach out to or call 248-845-8176.

Honor Organized Labor and the City of Detroit

The sculpture in Hart Plaza that resembles a giant gear was labor’s gift to the City of Detroit on the occasion of its 300th birthday in 2005.  The sculpture, Transcending, honors organized labor with two great AFT leaders specifically referenced:  Albert Einstein who was an AFT member at Princeton and former Detroit Teachers President Mary Ellen Riordan.  You can be part of this tribute by adding your name to the wall of honor at the site of the landmark.   You may add a name using the form and pledging a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more to the Michigan Labor History Society. Note that the deadline for this round of additions is August 3, 2020.  If you would like to add a name, please print out, scan, and e-mail the form with your information by the deadline to either of the co-chairs of the MLHS Program Committee:  Gavin Strassel ( or James Pedersen (  You will be billed when the name is added.

AFT Summer of Learning Professional Development Webinar Series

Essential Learning that Transfers – July 16, 1 p.m. EDT | REGISTER | Julie Stern, Author and Trainer

How do we select the most important concepts and skills that help students transfer their learning to unlock new situations? This webinar will help you sift through the noise and teach the most important elements.

Comprehensive Whole Child Development: SEL Tools for In-Person and Distance Learning – July 16, 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER | Learner Variability Project, Digital Promise

This webinar will dive into research-based strategies for building relationships and authentic examples of ways to promote social and emotional learning virtually. Participants will also explore free resources on the research behind adverse experiences and practices for improving their mental health and well-being. 

Early Childhood Ed: What Parents and Schools Should Do Now to Prepare for Reopening – July 16, 3 p.m. EDT | REGISTER | National Women’s Law Center, and the AFT

Research has proven that high-quality early childhood education helps bridge the achievement gap, reduces dropout rates, and increases social stability. Join us to learned how more about what parents, educators and administrators need to keep in mind as they prepare for summer learning opportunities or for reopening in the fall.

Managing Culture with an Equity Lens in the Classroom – July 16, 4 p.m. EDT | REGISTER | Stacy Scott, Center for Understanding Equity

This webinar focuses on the cultural drivers of performance, both at the individual and school levels. Participants will gain tools for analyzing culture and creating responses to the ways schools undermine student performance, while gaining strategies for managing culturally sensitive classrooms with awareness of personal bias and anti-bias curriculum. 

You will be eligible to receive one hour of professional development credit for participation in these webinars if you complete all the poll questions, survey, and actively watch the webinars. 

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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