September 21, 2020
“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Wed, September 23: K-12 Support Staff Unemployment Workshop
Are you a K-12 support staff member of AFT Michigan? Have you been laid off or had your hours reduced?
AFT Michigan’s unemployment workshops help members develop confidence navigating the Michigan unemployment insurance system. This session is designed particularly for K-12 support staff (paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, etc.) who have been laid off or had their hours reduced (which could make them eligible for “underemployment” benefits). You can also check out our Unemployment Resource Center for FAQs and helpful information.
GEO Makes Gains in Historic Strike
Last Wednesday evening, GEO members voted to accept the agreement negotiated with the University of Michigan administration and end its strike that began on September 8. The union won an expedited process for resolving GSI’s concerns about virus-related safety, additional funding and expanded coverage for daycare, the right to instruct students in classes to wear masks and cancel class if a student refuses to comply — as well as information about PPE availability and the methodology of the University’s COVID-19 testing program. The local will now also have a series of meetings with members of the University’s Board of Regents to discuss public safety and policing at the University, as well as a seat on a task force created to assess policing. The agreement also included a no reprisals clause.
Support for the strike grew rapidly, with hundreds of members and supporters walking picket lines and the local holding the biggest membership meetings in its history (over 1,200 people attended the strike ballot meeting over zoom). During the strike, union membership increased from 54% to 67%, and inspired resident hall dorm Resident Advisors to conduct their own strike for increased COVID-19-related safety measures. The RAs settled their strike this past weekend.
In a statement following the vote to end the strike, GEO said it would not stop its organizing efforts.“We’re not going anywhere. We’re not giving up,” the statement read.
Union Day of Action September 23
DeVos Targets Peters
Senator Gary Peters has been a rock solid advocate for public education and working families throughout his career. Proof positive of Gary’s strong record is that the DeVos family in December donated $800,000 to a super PAC called the Better Future Michigan Fund, which was set up specifically to defeat Gary. As of a few months ago, the group — which can accept unlimited donations — has spent almost $1 million to attack Peters, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
I doubt that anyone reading this email is able to pony up $800K, but if every AFT Michigan member gave $26, we could get there together.
2020 RISE Award
The Michigan Department of Education is accepting nominations of outstanding educational support staff for the state Education Support Staff Professional of the Year Award and national RISE Award. The purpose of these Awards is to recognize and promote the commitment and excellence exhibited by school employees who provide exemplary service to students.
“Every day, Michigan’s dedicated educational support staff work hard to ensure our kids have the support they need to get a great education,” said Governor Whitmer. “And now, as Michigan continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and as our kids return to in-person learning, our support staff are critical in keeping them safe. As a mom whose daughters grew up in Michigan’s public schools, I want to personally thank all of those who have dedicated their lives to our kids. Our state is home to so many exceptional men and women working in our schools, and I’m excited to recognize them with these awards.”
Nominations must be received using the online form between now and Friday, September 25, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.
David Hecker, President