On October 5, 1400 workers at four Kellogg Co. plants went on strike. Members of the Bakery, Confectionery Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) are holding strong on the picket line in Battle Creek, Michigan.
For more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kellogg workers around the country have been working long, hard hours, day in and day out, to produce Kellogg ready-to-eat cereals for America’s families. Kellogg’s response to these loyal, hardworking employees has been to demand the workers give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay. The company continues to threaten to send additional jobs to Mexico even as they rake in record profits if workers do not accept outrageous proposals that take away protections they have had for decades.
Can’t make it to a picket line? Add your name here to support the Kellogg workers on strike!
Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day
October 11 is Indigenous Peoples Day, and there are myriad free resources available online to inform your work in the classroom. AFT’s Share My Lesson has more than 60 lessons, activities and videos that delve into first nations’ culture and heritage. As part of its Native Knowledge 360 Education Initiative, the National Museum of the American Indian offers a Teaching & Learning About Native Americans FAQ that covers terminology, laws, reservations, tribal sovereignty, mascots and other topics. Looking ahead, it will soon be November, which is National Native American Heritage Month, and provides more opportunities to teach how the ways of life of indigenous peoples from around the world are important to understanding our shared sense of humanity.
Biden DOE Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
The US Department of Education has announced a dramatic overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that will lead to 550,000 public servant borrowers–teachers, nurses, firefighters, paraprofessionals–getting credit toward loan forgiveness.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a federal program that promised student loan borrowers that if they went into public service and made 120 monthly payments for 10 years, their remaining loans would be forgiven. But because of extremely confusing rules, misleading information from servicers, forced loan consolidation into ineligible loan programs, and inane disqualifications, fewer than 2 percent of eligible borrowers have received loan forgiveness. For years now, we have been asking the Education Department to fix these administrative errors and keep the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and the Biden administration listened.
If you’re one of the thousands of members now a bit more optimistic about your student loans, we’ve enlisted Summer–a resource specifically created to help borrowers untangle their student loan messes–to help AFT members enroll in the best loan repayment plan.
Lake Shore BBQ Brings in New Members
On October 6, I had a great time with the Lake Shore Federation of Teachers, Local 1465, at their fall kickoff BBQ organizing event. Current members, potential members, and other locals (AFSCME, LSFES, and LSFSS) in the district were invited to enjoy a couple of hours together at a local business, Baffin Brewing Company (owned by alumni of the district), and food catered by Full Rack Barbecue. Potential members were able to receive help signing up on Billhighway and get answers to any questions they may have. LSFT attendees were gifted a new LSFT t-shirt. Great job by LSFT President Mistie Ryan and the entire local leadership team, who have developed a fall organizing plan to increase membership and engagement in the union.
News from the North Country
We’ve had a series of good reports from Gary Wellnitz, our Northern Field Rep, regarding progress made by our locals in the northern lower peninsula and the UP:
- The Onaway Federation of Teachers were able to negotiate a new payscale that removed the bottom two steps, moved everyone up two steps, and added 2.5% on scale in the first year and 1.5% on scale in the second year. In addition to these bumps in salary, they will receive a $2500 bonus each year, plus any staff taking in-lieu payments for insurance will receive the amount equivalent to the single hard cap amount. Congratulations to their lead negotiator, Steve Watson and team.
- Rudyard Federation of teachers has signed up 6 new members through a well run organizing effort done at the start of the school year. Sean Nicklas and team make it a mission to reach out to all new hires and to circle back around to those who have opted out. Our membership is near 100% at Rudyard Schools and that is a direct result of the exec team leadership and their willingness to have open conversations with the staff.
- AMA Federation of Paraprofessionals are also nearing 100% membership because of the organizing efforts put forth by Angela Gagnon and her team. After holding an organizing meeting and a Q&A session with Gary, they were able to sign up 10 new members. Union membership is extremely important to Angela and her team so they work hard to inform the employees of the benefits of a strong local and state union.
New Leadership at Ferris State
The Ferris Non-Tenure Track Faculty Organization, Local 6528, has elected a new President, Paul Zube. Many thanks to outgoing President Mary Bacon, who served both FNTFO and as a member of the AFT Michigan Administrative Board. Mary has been a strong voice representing Ferris and contingent faculty in general throughout her service. Thank you Mary and welcome Paul!
Upcoming Union-Building Workshops
Contract Enforcement 101
Are you a building rep, steward, or other worksite leader who wants to address the issues you and your colleagues deal with every day? Sign up for Contract Enforcement 101 – starting Tuesday, October 12! This 3-session workshop covers the basics of enforcing your contract, from investigating and filing grievances up to preparing for arbitration. After 3 sessions participants will:
- Understand the importance in contract enforcement in a member-engaged union
- Learn how to identify and handle grievances
- Begin building a strong union that engages and empowers our members by identifying sources of power to resolve an issue and mobilize members.
|Contract Enforcement 101 (3 Sessions)||Tuesday, October 12, 2021||5:00 PM||6:30 PM|
|Contract Campaign Planning Workshop||Wednesday, October 13, 2021||5:00 PM||6:30 PM|
|Treasurer Tuesday: Billhighway Cleanup & Accounting||Tuesday, October 19, 2021||7:00 PM||8:30 PM|
|Managing Staff with Labor’s Values (2 Sessions)||Thursday, October 21, 2021||5:00 PM||6:30 PM|
|Local Financial Review Workshop||Saturday, November 6, 2021||9:00 AM||5:00 PM|
Contribute to the AFT Michigan PAC Today
AFT Michigan fights for our members, students and communities all year round and we need your help. Can you donate $52 a year to elect more candidates who share our values? Please visit https://aftmichigan.org/pac/ and set up a recurring gift. For as little as $1 a week, YOU can make a big difference in protecting public education and building a better Michigan future!
Join an AFT Michigan Working Group
The AFT Michigan Administrative Board has created five working groups to help push forward our work in priority areas that have emerged from, and cut across, our Constituency Committees, and we are looking for members to add your expertise and passion to the groups (listed below, with target constituencies we will seek to involve):
- Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline (All Constituencies)
- Increasing the Number of Black Educators in Michigan (All Constituencies)
- Support Staff-to-Teacher Pathways (PreK-12 Support Staff, Teachers, Special Ed/ISD)
- Converting Part-time to Full-time Faculty (NonTenure-Track Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty)
- New Deal for Higher Ed: Fighting Back Against Austerity Budgeting (Grads, NonTenure-Track Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty & Academic Staff)
Each group will begin with an Assessment Phase before moving toward recommending action steps to the AFT Michigan Administrative Board. Time commitments are flexible and will vary depending on the project and timeline. See descriptions of each group’s scope of work and interest sign up forms at https://aftmichigan.org/join-an-aft-michigan-working-group/.
Detroit Red Wings Educator Appreciation Night – November 9
The Detroit Red Wings is having an Educator Appreciation Night on November 9 for the Edmonton Oilers vs Detroit Red Wings game at Little Caesars Arena. Tickets include a complimentary drink and access to a pregame reception, where there will be snacks, raffle giveaways,surprise guests and more! Tickets are $65 for lower level and $35 for upper level.
David Hecker, President