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TAU at WMU Working for a New Contract

The Teaching Assistants Union (TAU, AFT #1729, AFL-CIO), representing graduate student Teaching Assistants at Western Michigan University (WMU), has started bargaining for a fair contract that respects grad workers and pays them a living wage. Today TAU held a Bargaining Team Support Rally with allies from WMU and the Kalamazoo community. Want to support TAU in their fight for a fair contract? Sign and share their petition today:

MDE Names DFT 231 Member Carl Brownlee 2022-23 Regional 10 Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Detroit Federation of Teachers member Carl Brownlee for being named Regional 10 Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education. 

Carl is a social studies teacher at Fisher Magnet Upper Academy in the Detroit Public Schools Community District and will be a finalist for the 2022-23 Michigan Teacher of the Year.  

Just Say Gay

Last week in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his hateful and mislabeled Parental Rights in Education bill, also known as “Don’t Say Gay/Don’t Say Trans,” into law. AFT member and Manatee County kindergarten teacher Cory Bernaert felt its real-world effects even before the bill was signed.  Cory and others have been attacked by Moms for Liberty and other groups.

As you well know, building relationships with our students is a vital part of our work. To build those relationships, we often talk about our lives and our shared experiences―spouses, kids, pets, what we did over the holidays and so on. This bill makes it nearly impossible for LGBTQIA+ educators and students alike to share and be who they are in their workplaces and schools. Cory is happily partnered, but if students ask what he did on the weekend, he can’t say he and his partner went paddleboarding. He can’t even explain what the word partner means. He can’t answer any questions about himself. His students who have LGBTQIA+ parents aren’t able to share their home life with their peers and their teacher. The safe and welcoming environment Cory has cultivated in his classroom has been put significantly at risk.

Educators are trusted as professionals who should be able to focus on teaching and creating an environment where all students feel safe to learn, thrive and recover from the disruptions of the pandemic.

Let’s show them that people across the country―whether parents, educators, healthcare workers or allies―support all families and all teachers, including LGBTQIA+ teachers. Let’s make sure every LGBTQIA+ educator and student in Florida hears us today.

Workers Organize at Amazon

Amazon has its first union with workers at its Staten Island, New York facility voted to join the Amazon Labor Union.  This worker led campaign is the first successful unionized effort at the giant corporation.  At its warehouse in Queens, New York,  Amazon workers held a short term walk out over a variety of issues.  The redo of the election involving the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union in Bessemer Alabama, ordered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)* as a result of the company’s unfair labor practices in the first election, is much, much closer than the first vote, with the outcome to be determined by the adjudication of 400 challenged ballots. We all benefit when workers anywhere and everywhere stand up for their rights.  Thank you Amazon workers.

*The President appoints members of the NLRB.  Elections matter!  Give to PAC.

EPIC Read by Grade Three Survey  Open for K-5 Educators!

EPIC at Michigan State University and their partners at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) have announced the launch of their year two Read by Grade Three survey! The survey is now open to K-5 teachers and literacy coaches or interventionists/specialists through the following link:

Any eligible participant who completes the approximately 25-minute survey will be awarded 5 State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs) and will be automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Please note that participation is voluntary, and all survey responses will be kept strictly confidential. Your Personal Identification Code (PIC) is needed to complete the survey and be awarded SCECHs.

In the past two years, 27,000 educators have responded to EPIC’s Read by Grade Three annual surveys and the responses were used extensively in their reports, which are available, along with more information about the survey, at: These reports are now being used by policy makers and practitioners as they grapple with pandemic recovery and the future of the Read by Grade Three law.

If you have any questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to contact

AFT Michigan Pride Picnic

Save the Date

Celebrate Pride Month at the 2nd Annual AFT Michigan Pride Picnic

Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Ann Arbor, MI

Organized by the AFT Michigan Queer Community

This community is new, growing, and open to any AFT Michigan member or staff organizer who identifies as LGBTQIA+2S! The group meets monthly via zoom, creating space for socialization, union building, and support while navigating our professional lives as queer people. Join us at our next virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 26th at 4pm. If you’re interested or have questions, contact Erin Lavin (they/she – field representative) at

Contribute to the AFT Michigan PAC Today

AFT Michigan fights for our members, students and communities all year round and we need your help. Can you donate $1 a week to aid us in this fight? Please visit the AFT Michigan website and set up a recurring gift to make a big difference in protecting public education and building a better Michigan future! 

Upcoming Union-Building Workshops

Local Financial Review WorkshopSaturday, April 16, 20229:00 – 4:00 PM
Treasurer Tuesday: Local Financial ReviewsTuesday, April 19, 20227:00 – 8:30 PM
Local Support Programs OverviewWednesday, April 27, 20225:00 – 6:30 PM

Professional Development

As part of the AFT’s new literacy campaign, Reading Opens the World, Share My Lesson’s community has expanded to feature even more downloadable, free resources for preK-12 teachers, schools and parents. We also have seven new, for-credit webinars scheduled on teaching literacy, starting April 14 and running into June. Bonus: If you’ve missed any prior webinars, you can watch them on demand for free.  

Sign up for all the sessions you want, and share with your colleagues too. This high-quality, free professional development series is open to all, and it’s one not to miss!

Poetry Appreciation

You’ll love this collection of poetry resources, featuring everything from Shakespeare to Amanda Gorman, to engage learners of all levels, abilities, interests and backgrounds.

Ramadan Traditions | Reimagining Migration

The month of Ramadan has begun. Use this blog to learn more about some of the cherished Ramadan traditions and use a related lesson plan to help students with learning vocabulary.

Free Wellness Sessions Returns

As part of the AFT Share My Lesson’s ongoing wellness series, we hope you can join us for the next session with meditation coach Catherine Zack! She’ll be hosting a guided relaxation and deep rest workshop, Tuesday, April 12, at 6 p.m. EDT. If you’ve missed prior wellness sessions, you can watch them on demand for free.

Be sure to join Share My Lesson’s Health and Wellness Community, with downloadable free resources for educators and adults. We have even more wellness sessions scheduled this month and next. 

In solidarity, 

David Hecker


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