We Support Those Who Support Us
Political action is imperative for two reasons: To elect friends of public education and preK-12 and higher education employees, and to pass or defeat ballot proposals that affect education and our members
We regularly survey members to determine issues they feel most strongly about. Decisions about candidate endorsements are made based on their stances on these issues, information about the candidate’s background, voting record, public platform and through personal interviews. We also are involved with the decision-making process with the state and local AFL-CIO, and AFT in presidential races. Because AFT Michigan makes determinations that are issue-based, support may be given to candidates of any political party.
The vote to endorse state-level candidates is made by the AFT Michigan Administrative Board. This list of endorsements includes candidates running for U.S. Congress, the Michigan Legislature, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and education boards.
For candidates at the state-level and above, AFT Michigan participates in the Michigan AFL-CIO endorsement process. To be considered for endorsement, a candidate must do two things:
- Complete the Michigan AFL-CIO’s candidate questionnaire, which is available here.
- Request the recommendation of the Central Labor Council which serves the geographic area in which the district is located. A list of contact information for local Central Labor Councils is available here.
For candidates in municipal elections, please submit a request for the recommendation of the Central Labor Council which serves the geographic area in which the district is located. A list of contact information for local Central Labor Councils is available here.
AFT Michigan is actively involved in ballot proposals that affect our members. For example, in 2000 the state federation and our locals played a major role in defeating public school vouchers. In 2002, we were involved in defeating the proposal to take tobacco settlement money away from public education.
Supporting endorsed candidates and impacting the outcome on ballot proposals involves educating members, mobilizing members to actively support these candidates or initiatives, and raising political action funds.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
AFT Michigan maintains a Political Action Committee (PAC) that collects voluntary contributions from members that are used to support candidates at the state level who support our issues. The AFT raises PAC funds to support candidates at the federal level and makes contributions to Michigan candidates upon the recommendations of AFT Michigan. Some locals maintain their own PAC, again funded through the generous voluntary contributions of its members. Most often these funds are used to support local candidates that impact their school district, particularly local school board candidates.
Only PAC money can by given in support of candidates. Money collected for the purpose of political action must be kept by the union in a separate account and cannot be collected with or as part of member dues.
It Takes a Team, and you build it Member-to-Member
How do you communicate important information within the union membership? How do you act quickly to call a meeting or get people out to support a contract or attend a political rally?
The answer is having Member-to-Member (M2M) system in place. Member-to-Member is not “another program.” It is how a local union should operate.
Having a Member-to-Member campaign gives the local union the ability to organize and act quickly on issues. This is the basis for enhancing our bargaining, political and legislative power. M2M also gives the ability to be proactive, visible and involve members through face-to-face communication this ensures that every member has been contacted, and is aware of the work that is being done to further enhance public education and public services.
What is a Member-to-Member System?
In its most simple form think of a “phone tree” where the President makes five calls to the other members of the union Executive Committee. Each Executive Committee calls 1-5 Building Reps; each Building Rep. (with the help of assistants) contacts all the members in their building. In a very short time all the members in a union have been contacted and everybody only has to make a few contacts.
Each local is unique and how it organizes a Member-to-Member system will have to match that uniqueness. AFT Michigan will be happy to help you organize a Member-to-Member system and train the participants. Call or e-mail Nikhol Atkins at 313-393-2200 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.