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May 18, 2020

76th AFT Michigan Convention

Thank you to everyone who was part of our 76th Convention on Saturday. While I of course missed getting to see people in person, we had a great turnout, with well over 200 members from 45 locals participating. One benefit of a virtual convention is that it was easier for our Northern locals to participate; overall, it was one of the best turnouts I can remember, and I was pleasantly surprised at how robust and energetic the discussions were given the format.

Thanks again to our staff and all the delegates who served on committees and put in a lot of work to make this Convention a success.

Help UM House Officers Get a Fair Contract

For months, physician residents at the University of Michigan Hospital, represented by the House Officers Association, have been fighting for a fair contract while also being on the frontlines saving lives during this pandemic. It’s time the University of Michigan administration stepped up with a fair contract.

Contact President Mark Schlissel (presoff@umich.edu) and Executive VP for Medical Affairs Marschall Runge (mrunge@umich.edu) and tell them to listen to HOA members who have stepped up to fight COVID-19 and provide critical care to patients.

K-8 Teachers: Survey on Read by Grade Three

Launch Michigan, the coalition of education, labor, business,and philanthropy, is partnering with the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) at Michigan State University and the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) General Education Leadership Network’s (GELN) Early Literacy Task Force (ELTF) to promote their statewide survey of current K-8 teachers and principals on Read by Grade Three. Given that this is a time of transition for schools and districts, the survey has been held open to provide more time for you to respond. EPIC has also updated the survey with questions about how schools are responding to the suspension of face-to-face instruction due to the pandemic.

Please consider adding your voice on these important policy areas. EPIC continues to offer 5 SCECHs in recognition of your time and the time of educators in your district who complete the survey. We encourage you to take the survey and pass the survey messages on to your K-8 teachers.

The survey can be completed here:

 https://msu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9p2rheudlTRAZwx

We Lost A Great Friend

Last week, the immediate past president of the MEA, Steve Cook, passed away at the age of 63 of pancreatic cancer, just a few years after he retired. Steve was a paraprofessional at Lansing Public Schools, serving as President of his local. He is the longest serving officer in MEA history, holding the positions of Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer and President. I had the privilege of working with Steve for many of those years. He was an ardent trade unionist who cared so deeply about the women and men MEA represents and all working people, as well, of course, the students of Michigan. I valued his friendship and his leadership. He will be sorely missed.

Supporting Our Communities Together: United Way COVID-19 Funds

During times like these, the strength of our solidarity is more important than ever and we are all looking for ways to help those who need it most. In this spirit, the Administrative Board allocated $30,000 as a matching fund for COVID-19 relief in Michigan communities and asked all 91 AFT Michigan locals to give what they can in contributions to their local United Way’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

As a union, we are fortunate to have the means to help, given the fact that the vast majority of our members are still working. I’m happy to report that the following locals have collectively contributed more than $12,000 toward our goal:

  • Dearborn Federation of Teachers
  • Eastpointe Federation of Educators
  • Hamtramck Federation of Teachers
  • Kingsley Federation of Teachers
  • Lake Shore Support Staff
  • Macomb ISD Federation of Paraprofessionals
  • Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff
  • Midland Federation of Paraprofessionals
  • Taylor Federation of Teachers
  • UM Lecturers Employee Organization
  • Van Dyke Education Assistants Federation
  • Warren Woods Paraprofessionals
  • WSU Union of Part-Time Faculty

If your local has made a contribution, please let us know so we can match it and add you to the list!

Right to Literacy Settlement a Landmark Victory for Students

After years of litigation, the constitutional right to literacy and a quality public education was won thanks to the brave efforts of Detroit students who secured a significant legal victory for the rights of their peers in Detroit, throughout Michigan, and across the country. The case began in 2016, when Detroit Public School students who had been in state-managed public schools felt they were not getting the education they deserved under Gov. Rick Snyder’s emergency manager policies. In April, a federal appeals court sided with students, giving more fuel to the years-long legal battle for a quality public education. Early last Thursday, Gov. Whitmer’s office announced a settlement had been reached.

“This case is a landmark victory for students and families in Detroit, across Michigan and throughout the country by setting an important precedent that the right to education and literacy is fundamental,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “We applaud both the brave students who came forward in 2016 to fight for their rights and Gov. Whitmer for working to settle this case. This decision will benefit students both in Detroit and across the state. Every child has a right to receive a quality public education and every child deserves the opportunity to set themselves up for a bright future.”

“Every student wants and deserves a quality public education and students in Detroit were willing to fight for that right. We couldn’t be prouder of those students who stepped up and did the right thing despite years of contentious legal battles,” said Terrence Martin, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. “Educators are used to having to fight for their students, but having students step up and be their own advocates is inspiring and a testament to the power of the public school community in this state. Gov. Whitmer did the right thing settling this case and we thank her for coming to the table and helping make this settlement possible.”

Upcoming Professional Development

Unemployment Q & A for PSRPs and School Related Personnel

May 27, 2020 4:30 p.m.

AFT Michigan Zoom discussion with PSRPs and Support Staff regarding unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to register: https://aftmichigan.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIucOirrzooHtzyexEFcgigbH72vLwOLUdf

Bullying, Teasing & Taunting – Virtual Workshop

June 6, 2020

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This workshop provides research to support educators to distinguish the difference between bullying, teasing and taunting and the effect the three have on the learning environment. Participants will receive 6 SCECHs after completion of the workshop.

Click here to register.

AFT is offering on-line professional development directed at the impact of COVID-19 on education. Sign-up by clicking on the Register Now link.

Ethics and Equity in a Global Pandemic: Strategies for Specialized Instructional Support Providers

Wednesday, May 20, at 3:30 p.m. EDT

Connect with AFT members and specialized instructional support providers (SISPs) to learn and share strategies for meeting ethics and equity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic with speech, nursing, social work, psychology, therapy and more. This AFT members-only webinar with AFT’s Chelsea Prax, is ideal for school counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, therapists and related professionals. Register now.

Helping Children Regulate Emotions During Challenging Times

Thursday, May 21, at 4 p.m. EDT

In this webinar, Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel, and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, will share a four-step process to help adults be emotionally intelligent role models for children and teach them key strategies that support healthy self-regulation. Register now and watch his recent webinar on demand.

Members that COVID-19 Has Taken from Us

  • John Elliott, Detroit Federation of Teachers (former President & AFT Michigan Administrative Board member)
  • Marilyn Horace-Moore, Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers (former Treasurer)
  • Roslyn Johnson, Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals
  • Charlene Smith, Detroit Federation of Teachers (former Executive Board member)
  • Ricardo Smith, Association of Adjunct Faculty at Macomb Community College
  • Darla Swint, Hamtramck Fed of Teachers (retired Paraprofessional)
  • Linda Wilkins, Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals
  • Art Williams, Wayne County Community College Federation of Teachers (former Executive Board member)
  • Thomas Wilson, Detroit Federation of Teachers

AFT Michigan will honor our members who have died by recognizing them in words, and by continuing our work for educational, racial, and economic justice. If you know of an active or retired member who should be listed, please email covid19@aftmichigan.org.

In solidarity,

David Hecker, President

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