March 23, 2020
Recording of Tele-Town Hall with Gov. Whitmer, Supt. Rice Available Online
On Monday, March 23, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and State Superintendent Michael Rice joined members of AFT Michigan, AFSCME Council 25, and the Michigan Education Association for a discussion of the impacts of COVID19 on public education. Thousands of education professionals from around the state of Michigan participated in the call; however, due to technical difficulties, some members did not receive the call to connect them to the townhall. We apologize for the error. You can listen to a recording of the call at AFTMichigan.org/covid19. Thank you to all who participated and tried to participate.
On the statewide call, Governor Whitmer acknowledged the many sacrifices being made and urged everyone to do their part to protect the health and safety of the public and the state’s health care workers.
“There’s no community that has been greater in its support or more encouraging or stepped up to meet more needs than the education community,” Whitmer said, “and that’s why I wanted to be here to thank you, to share with you the thought process on why these actions are so important now, and just to tell you how much I appreciate you.”
Rice also addressed attendees directly who are “rightly concerned about your pay or the pay of family, friends or colleagues.”
“You’re concerned about what’s going to happen with the summer. You’re concerned about whether the state of emergency days will count as instructional days. I don’t get to make any of these decisions in my current role, but let me tell you who does, and by extension what I am advocating for with your union leaders and partners,” said Rice, pointing attendees to the Legislature for needed action.
“I believe that everyone who works for a school district and who had anticipated working for a school district through the end of the school year should be paid as such, whether salaried or hourly, whether a contracted service provider, instructional or non-instructional, whether a full-time employee or a substitute employee,” Rice added.
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Gov. Whitmer Issues Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives Executive Order
Earlier today, Governor Whitmer issued the Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives Executive Order, requiring all non-essential businesses to close and workers to stay home to prevent the spread of coroanvirus. The order takes effect at 12:01 am March 24 and is in effect through April 13.
Additionally, Gov. Whitmer extended the order for all schools to remain closed through April 13. School employees who are needed to perform essential functions at school buildings, despite being closed to students, must still report to work if asked by their employer.
Governor Whitmer also issued a press release clarifying that schools providing food service to students and families is an essential function. Governor Whitmer’s Press Secretary Tiffany Brown made this statement: “Gov. Whitmer is committed to ensuring that Michigan students have access to the food they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the governor’s executive order, K-12 school food services are considered critical infrastructure and should continue. The governor deeply appreciates the vital work that our frontline school employees are doing every day to ensure that our kids have the food they need while the order is in effect.”
- Go to the grocery store or pick up take-out food.
- Go to the pharmacy to pick up a needed prescription.
- Engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, biking.
- Go to the hospital or secure any care necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve your health or the health of a loved one.
- Fill your car with gas.
- Return to Michigan to a home or place of residence from outside the State.
- Leave the State for a home or residence elsewhere.
- Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian for needed medical care.
YOU MAY NOT:
- Leave the home to work unless your employer designates you as a critical infrastructure worker.
- Participate in any public gatherings.
- Visit someone in the hospital, nursing home, or other residential care facilities (with limited exceptions).
- Go to the mall or to restaurants.
For more information on this order, please visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus.
AFT Michigan Coronavirus Resource Center
AFT Michigan is in constant communication with the Governor’s Office, the Michigan Department of Education, and lawmakers about unfolding crisis response efforts. Additionally, the national AFT is working very hard with federal officials and lawmakers. Our union is working hard to support efforts to protect public health and advocate for our education workers, students, families, and communities.
We are updating AFTMichigan.org/covid19, our Coronavirus Resource Center, on a regular basis.
Thank you for all you’re doing to support your families, students, and communities. Please let us know if there are additional ways we can support you or ideas you have for the website by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFT Endorses Joe Biden for President
Yesterday, the AFT Executive Council voted to endorse Joe Biden for President. Based on feedback received following the AFT’s endorsement process for the 2016 presidential race, the vote came after a comprehensive and transparent effort to involve as many members as possible. In February, the Executive Council adopted a resolution asking members to support either Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, as all three reflected our values and stand with us on the issues. Polling conducted late last week shows Biden is favored by 60% of AFT members, as compared to 30% for Sanders. Every AFT constituency group now supports the Vice President in his bid for the Democratic nomination for President.
It is important that Senator Sanders continues to advocate for a strongly progressive Democratic platform, whether he stays in the race or not. But the Executive Council sees this as the time for our union to coalesce in support of Vice President Biden to further strengthen his campaign to defeat President Trump.
AFT Michigan Members Working to Provide Meals to Students
We’ve heard from so many of our members about the great work they’re doing to continue providing essential services to students during this time, including providing meals to students. If you have photos and stories of the work happening in your schools and communities, please share them with us at email@example.com. Below are some photos of members sent in by the Midland Federation of Paraprofessionals and Macomb ISD Federation of Paraprofessionals at work during this crisis:
Thank you for all you’re doing. We’ll get through this together.