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AFT Michigan, AFSCME and MEA members were invited to attend a telephone town hall with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and State Supt. Dr. Michael F. Rice regarding the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, March 23 at 11:30 a.m.

To listen to a recording of the townhall, please click here or use the player at below.

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.

Just as last year’s statewide school closures in response to the polar vortex were forgiven, instructional days lost for an unprecedented national public health emergency should also be forgiven, Rice said. 

“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.”

Only the state Legislature can make those kinds of global decisions, and education leaders across the spectrum – including union leaders – are working together to advocate for it, he said. 

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