March 8, 2021
Amazon Workers Fight For Us All
In one of the most important organizing drives in recent memory, Amazon workers at the company’s Bessemer, Alabama facility are organizing a union with the Retail, Wholesale, Department, Store Union (AFL-CIO). Mail balloting proceeds through the end of this month as the workers, mostly young and African-American, are taking on the world’s largest retailer and one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Jeff Bezos, the second wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $196 billion, has his company running a comprehensive anti-union campaign to defeat the union and keep the workers subservient to his edicts. Bezos’ net worth increased by $75 billion in 2020, as people have been suffering from the pandemic and its devastating economic impact on millions.
Supporters of the organizing campaign include President Biden, who recently released a video extolling the value of unions in general, although given the timing of the President’s video, it is clearly intended to voice his strong support of the Amazon workers.
The AFT is providing important support to the organizing drive with our local leader Marianne Hayward serving as President of the Birmingham area AFL-CIO and helping to lead those efforts. AFT has about 2,000 members in the area.
Amazon has run a comprehensive anti- union campaign, including changing the traffic light sequencing at the access roadway so there is less time for cars to be leafletted; installing a US Mail drop box in the warehouse and are pushing workers to use that mailbox for the mail ballots under the watchful gaze of supervisors ; placing anti-union posters in all the bathrooms; and running VOTE NO messages on wide-screen TV’s throughout the facility.
In support of these workers some have organized a week-long boycott of Amazon, running through March 12. Please join the boycott. It is our small gesture to show our support for these amazing workers.
Wayne State Lecturers Continue the Fight for Job Security
In an unfortunate repeat of last year, WSU administration has opted to give pink slips to all of the Lecturers up for renewal appointments this year in several of its colleges, including: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts, and Engineering. Lecturers will have to wait as long as six months to find out if their contracts will be renewed and with limited opportunities to find new employment. WSU Lecturers are the lowest paid full time faculty members who increasingly take up a vital role in the education of its undergraduate students. WSU falls behind almost all of its peer institutions, including UM and MSU in how it treats teaching intensive non-tenure track faculty — a fact that the WSU AAUP-AFT Local 6075 looks forward to changing at the bargaining table where the contract with WSU is currently being renegotiated. Please offer your support by clicking here to send a letter to the WSU administration.
Taylor Federation of Teachers Settles Wage Reopener
Congratulations to the members of the Taylor Federation of Teachers on a successful round of negotiations. Everyone received raises and the step schedule was condensed to enable members to reach the top sooner. Teachers’ aides gained access to healthcare in addition to raises, and staff in the recently-organized virtual academy gained equity in bereavement days.. The TA was overwhelmingly approved by the TFT membership and ratified by the Taylor Board last week. Not coincidentally, the TFT worked hard to elect four pro-public education candidates to the school board last November. Great work by President Linda Moore and the whole TFT team.
Jackson: Paraprofessionals Are Important
Donna Jackson, President of the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals, shared why paraprofessionals are so important to school communities and asks for community support in this piece published by Bridge Magazine: https://www.bridgedetroit.com/opinion-detroit-schools-support-staff-asks-for-community-support/ “Our members work so hard to nurture, educate and mentor students from families apart from their own while struggling to afford the basics for our own needs and those of our own families. That’s not right, and we need a contract that will change it.” The DFP is in negotiations for a new contract. Nicely done, Donna.
Legislature Okays Some Federal Dollars, Links Some to Limiting DHHS Power
The State Legislature passed a Supplemental Bill that would release $650 million in federal ESSER funds to our districts in need, but ties an additional $820 million to a bill that limits the power of the State Health Department to enact closures during an epidemic. The bill has $136 million that would be allocated to districts who do not receive the entire $450 per pupil allotment of ESSER funds through the Title I formula. Districts who receive these equalization payments will have to provide 20 hours of face-to-face instruction per week. The bill would also distribute $190 million for summer programs, before and after school programming, credit recovery and benchmark assessments. As the bill travels to the Governor’s desk we will continue to advocate for our students receiving all of the funds they need to defeat this pandemic.
AFT Professional Learning: Share My Lesson Virtual Conference
Registration is now open for AFT Share My Lesson’s ninth annual Virtual Conference on March 23-25!
This three-day virtual conference features more than 40 free, for-credit webinars on issues that are top of mind for supporting students, including learning recovery, social and emotional recovery, civic engagement, cross-curricular instructional strategies and trauma sensitive practices. Last year, we had more than 70,000 registrations. So don’t delay! Get these sessions on your calendar now: ShareMyLesson.com/vc2021.
David Hecker, President