In AFT, Blog, Workshops & Training

Our staff have done a great job converting our trainings to be offered online this fall, including breaking them up into shorter sessions to reduce the “Zoom fatigue” we’re all struggling with and finding ways to still do active learning in the online format. And while there are many challenges to moving online, we’re hopeful that it will increase access for many members:

Fall Union-Building Calendar

New Officer OrientationThursday, September 17, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Treasurer Tuesdays: Tracking revenue (cash in)Tuesday, September 22, 20207:00 PM8:30 PM
Virtual Meetings 101Thursday, September 24, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Member Organizing Institute Core Course (2 sessions)Saturday, September 26, 2020Saturday, October 3, 20209:00 AM12:00 PM
Contract Enforcement 101 (3 sessions)Tuesday, September 29, 2020Tuesday, October 6, 2020Tuesday, October 13, 20206:00 PM8:00 PM
Media Relations 101Wednesday, September 30, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
List-building for OrganizingMonday, October 5, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Treasurer Tuesdays: Tracking Payments (cash out)Tuesday, October 6, 20207:00 PM8:30 PM
Meeting Facilitation 101Thursday, October 8, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Knack Database ToolsThursday, October 15, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Local Organizing StructuresMonday, October 19, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Collective Bargaining 101 (3 sessions)Tuesday, October 20, 2020Tuesday, October 27, 2020Tuesday, November 10, 20206:00 PM8:00 PM
Treasurer Tuesdays: BudgetsTuesday, October 20, 20207:00 PM8:00 PM
Digital Media 101Wednesday, October 21, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Justice Leaders Core Course (LEADER COHORT) (3 sessions)Saturday, November 7, 2020Saturday, November 14, 2020Saturday, November 21, 202010:00 AM3:00 PM
Justice Leaders Core Course (STAFF COHORT) (6 sessions)Thursday, November 12, 2020Thursday, November 19, 2020Thursday, December 3, 2020Thursday, December 10, 2020Thursday, December 17, 202010:00 AM12:00 PM
Treasurer Tuesdays: Financial reports & IRS complianceTuesday, November 17, 20206:00 PM8:30 PM
Hustle & Action NetworkWednesday, November 18, 20206:00 PM7:30 PM
Treasurer Tuesdays: AFT local financial review processTuesday, December 1, 20206:00 PM8:30 PM
Heroes’ NarrativeWednesday, December 2, 20206:00 PM8:00 PM
Member BenefitsWednesday, December 9, 20206:00 PM7:00 PM
Treasurer Tuesdays: Record retention & important datesTuesday, December 15, 20207:00 PM8:30 PM

Workshops Grouped by Power Wheel Area

The work of AFT Michigan is rooted in two basic power-building strategies:

  • Building strong local unions able to consistently bring members together and win campaigns at the workplace, and
  • Connecting those locals on a regional and statewide basis (with each other, other unions, and community allies) to build power and take on broader external campaigns.

Over the past several years, we have worked to define what a “strong local union” looks like through developing and revising our “Power Wheel” framework, which serves as a basis for our Union-Building training program. This year, we will be offering all of our core Union-Building workshops online.

A. Fighting Racism & Discrimination

1. Justice Leaders Core Course

The Justice Leaders Core Course is designed to help AFT Michigan local leaders and staff passionate about issues of equity, inclusion and social justice learn about issues of privilege, oppression and inequality along lines of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Participants will come to understand their own social identities, biases, and prejudices; increase their knowledge about the histories and present realities of various social identity groups; and begin incorporating this knowledge and awareness into their practice. 

In partnership with the Justice Leaders Collaborative, we are offering one Core Course cohort for leaders and one cohort for staff who work for locals and AFT Michigan this fall. A second leadership cohort is planned for Thursday evenings in Feb-Mar 2021. Participants must be willing to reflect deeply in ways that may challenge previously held assumptions and world views. Homework readings and activities required for each session. All sessions are required.


  • Session 1: Saturday, November 7, 2020 (10am-3pm, with a lunch break from 12pm-1pm)
  • Session 2: Saturday, November 14, 2020 (10am-3pm, with a lunch break from 12pm-1pm)
  • Session 3: Saturday, November 21, 2020 (10am-3pm, with a lunch break from 12pm-1pm)


  • Session 1: Thursday, November 12 (10am-12pm)
  • Session 2: Thursday, November 19 (10am-12pm)
  • Session 3: Thursday, December 3 (10am-12pm)
  • Session 4: Thursday, December 10 (10am-12pm)
  • Session 5&6: Thursday, December 17 (10am-3pm, with a lunch break from 12pm-1pm)

B. Building Internal Structures

1. Support for New Officers

  • 9/17: New Officer Orientation:  Intended for people who have become local officers in the last 1-2 years, this workshop covers the ABC’s of AFT and will help you plan what other trainings will be most relevant for your role.
  • If you’re interested in mapping out a personalized leadership development curriculum, contact your Field Rep or Dave Dobbie (

2. Treasurer Tuesdays (1st & 3rd Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30pm)

Our Treasurer Tuesdays series helps treasurers and other local officers learn the basics of union financial management and get support from peers across the state.

  • 9/8: State and National Per Caps: Everything you need to know about how to calculate and pay state, national and AFL-CIO per caps.
  • 9/22: Tracking Revenue (Cash In): The “income” side of accounting – keeping track of local dues and other revenue sources.
  • 10/6: Tracking Payments (Cash Out): The “expense” side of accounting and how to ensure your locals is adequately tracking what you spend.
  • 10/20: Budgets: Budgets are your organizational roadmap – make sure your local is being proactive in figuring out where you want to go and how to get there.
  • 11/17: Financial Reports & IRS Compliance: Providing useful and accurate financial reports to the local leadership team and staying in compliance with the IRS.
  • 12/1: AFT Local Financial Review Process: This session (which will be repeated in the spring) is designed for locals getting ready to complete their yearly financial review as mandated by the AFT Constitution. Following this overview, we will schedule work time with local teams to help you complete your review.
  • 12/15: Record Retention & Important Dates: Best practices for keeping your local in compliance with the IRS, Department of Labor, and national AFT.

3. Holding Good Meetings

  • 9/24: Virtual Meetings 101: Holding meetings online is the new normal – let’s make sure we’re doing it as well as possible! Participants are recommended to also sign up for the session on Meeting Facilitation.
  • 10/8: Meeting Facilitation 101: Just because your principal or department chair runs boring meetings doesn’t mean you have to; learn how to run union meetings that rock! Participants are recommended to also sign up for the session on Virtual Meetings.

4. Member Data & Communications

  • 10/15: Knack Database Tools: For local admins (leaders and staff) who manage their data in the AFT Michigan Knack database.
  • 11/18: Hustle & Action Network: Two crucial tools for communicating with your members available to locals via the AFT. Hustle (texting) and Action Network (email) can help make sure members know what’s happening and how to get involved.
  • 12/9: AFT Member Benefits: AFT membership offers many benefits to your members – this workshop will provide an overview of the various insurance programs, discounts, and other benefits to help you communicate with members.

C. Organizing & Engaging Members

1. Member Organizing Institute 

The Member Organizing Institute (MOI) program is designed to support local member engagement efforts through one-on-one conversations with members and potential members, leadership identification and development, and increased member activism. 

  • 9/26-10/3: MOI Core Course (Our Fall 2020 member organizer training will be divided into three parts: workshops on Saturday, 9/26 from 9:00am-12:00pm, and Saturday, 10/3 from 9:00am-11:00am, along with practice conversations to be completed during the intervening week. Enrollment preference given to those completing organizing fellowships.)
  • MOI Organizing Fellowship Program: Our members’ ability to draw from personal work and union experience to engage current members and activate potential leaders is invaluable. Through this program, union members are trained and work as part-time organizers to help increase capacity in their local unions. If you are interested in learning more, contact John Ware (

2. Local Organizing Workshops

  • 10/5: List-building for Organizing: The foundation of any organizing campaign is a good list – who do we need to talk to, where can we find them, and how can we contact them? This workshop focuses on best practices in getting bargaining unit lists from the employer, keeping the local’s membership database up to date, and tracking important information.
  • 10/19: Local Organizing Structures: Mapping your workplace to build the kind of member-to-member organizing structure your local needs to increase engagement and activism.

D. Negotiating & Problem-Solving

  • 9/29-10/13: Contract Enforcement 101: This 3-session workshop covers the basics of enforcing your contract, from investigating and filing grievances up to preparing for arbitration. Participants must attend all three Tuesday evening sessions.
  • 10/20-11/10: Collective Bargaining 101: This 3-session workshop will prepare you for the collective bargaining process, including an opportunity to practice at the virtual negotiations table. Participants must attend all three Tuesday sessions.

E. Coalition-Building & Political Action

1. Communications Toolbox (facilitated by our communications partner Progress Michigan)

  • 9/30: Media Relations 101: Getting our message out to the community via the media takes preparation – this workshop will prepare you to reach out to local news outlets to cover your campaigns.
  • 10/21: Digital Media 101: Getting your local’s message out to the community using social media and other digital tools.
  • 12/2: Heroes’ Narrative: Crafting narratives to support winning campaigns – whether you’re working for a fair contract or building a coalition pushing for policy change.
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