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September 23, 2019

Legislature Votes on K-12 Budget, Votes on University and Community College Budgets Expected Tomorrow

With the state’s fiscal year ending September 30, we expect the flurry of legislative activity to continue as the Legislature finalizes budgets to send to Governor Whitmer.  Once the bills reach her desk, Governor Whitmer has the option to sign the budgets as written, sign the budgets but issue line-item vetoes over specific expenditures, or veto the bills outright.

Both the House and Senate approved the K-12 School Aid budget, which is expected to be formally sent to the governor in the coming days. Both the House and Senate are yet to vote on the Universities and Community Colleges budgets, though we anticipate votes to be held Tuesday. We urge members to contact their legislators to ask for increased university and community college funding.

For details on all three budgets go to our website:

Solidarity with American Federation of Government Employees

This Tuesday, September 24, the American Federation of Government Employees will stage a Day of Action as they continue to fight against attacks on their rights, their union and their contracts. AFGE is fighting for fairness, dignity and respect for all federal employees. The rally is from 12 noon to 1 p.m. at the McNamara Federal Building, 477 Michigan Avenue in Detroit.

AFT Michigan Retirees and Hamtramck Educators Support GM Strikers

Retired AFT-Michigan members joined striking UAW workers on the picket line at the General Motors Warren Transmission plant on Friday, Sept. 20 in a show of labor solidarity.  About two dozen AFT members, along with other union members and community activists picketed outside the plant on Mound Road in Warren. UAW Local 909 shop chairman Frank Rowser said that the ongoing support from other unions and the community has amazed the strikers.

“The support from our union brothers and sisters has been just overwhelming,” said Rowser.  “It has very literally brought tears to the eyes of some our striking members.”

Hamtramck Federation of Teachers Local #1052 supported UAW brothers and sisters on Friday by delivering “Apples from the Teachers” to striking workers at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

The action was organized by Jackie Dziedziula, whose husband is one of the striking GM employees.

Yesterday, I joined the rally line at GM’s Warren plan, led by Congressman Andy Levin. Met a Detroit Teachers retiree, Bill Chandler.

Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals Reach Tentative Agreement

Congratulations to the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals who have reached an agreement on their wage reopener for this school year.

 All bargaining unit members will receive a wage increase of 3% and bonuses in December 2019. Their gains were due in large part to the action of the members who called and emailed the Superintendent and school board members, in addition to attending and speaking at school board meetings.  

Register for AFT Michigan’s Union Building Institute


Join us at the University of Michigan in Dearborn as we kick-off our 2019-2020 Union Building Institute (UBI). AFT Michigan’s UBI program is intended for all AFT Michigan members, with a focus on local leaders who want to:

  • Attend a 101-level workshop in one of the four Power Wheel categories, or
  • Participate in a more advanced workshop on building up the internal structures of their union.

Please click here to register and for additional information about the conference, hotel accommodations, and mileage reimbursement.

Trump Proposes Eliminating Bargaining Rights for Private Sector Graduate Employees

President Trump has proposed an administration rule that would deny graduate employees at private universities and colleges the legal right to unionize. The proposed rule, released this past Friday, effectively reverses the National Labor Relations Board’s landmark 2016 Columbia University decision, which found graduate employees at private schools and colleges were workers entitled to the same legal protections as others, including the right to join a union. The president appoints members of the NLRB. The 2016 decision was made by a NLRB appointed by President Obama. The NLRB is now filled by Trump appointees.

Graduate Employees are organizing with the American Federation of Teachers under the banner of AFT Academics. They will shortly submit comments urging the rule be scrapped while continuing to fight for dignity and respect. 

Graduate Employees have been a significant constituency within AFT Michigan where graduate employees are represented at public universities:  Wayne State, University of Michigan, Michigan State, Western, and Central.

Century Foundation Report on Michigan’s College Affordability Crisis  

The Century Foundation has issued a new report documenting that  Michigan has some of the highest public tuition levels in the nation—largely due to sharp cuts in state funding. Some disturbing trends include:

  • State lawmakers have reduced per student funding for university operations and grant aid to students, leaving Michigan students and their families to shoulder the cost of college, despite increasingly fragile family finances. For lower-income families, the total cost of attendance after aid averages about one-third of household income for a public university, and one-sixth for a community college.
  • Access and affordability vary greatly by geography, race, income, and age, underscoring the importance of financial accessibility across institutions and for nontraditional college students. State grant aid is virtually unavailable for adults, and the financial burden for a median-income Michigan family can increase by as much as 50 percent from one county to another.
  • Student debt is rising: student loan borrowers graduate from Michigan bachelor’s degree programs with more than $31,000 in debt, on average, and since 2000, the average student debt burden among graduates of public universities has increased 43 percent. 

Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Service District Building Destroyed by Fire

Please keep the students and staff of the COP ESD in your thoughts as they cope with the aftermath of a fire that destroyed the main ESD building this weekend.  Luckily, nobody was hurt, but the building is a total loss.  We’ll let you know if there are requests from our members there to help them restock their materials and help the students through this transition.

Upcoming Professional Development: Activating Learning in All Disciplines

October 5, 2019

8:30-4:00 p.m.

Macomb Federation of Educators Office

15300 E. 10 Mile Rd. – Eastpointe, MI

This workshop explores a pathway where lessons connect with cultural norms and students’ ability to share in their own learning and expectations leading to academic growth.

AFT Michigan members will receive 6 SCECHs after completion of this course.

Click here to register.

In Solidarity,

David Hecker, President

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