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More AFT Members Win Public Service Loan Forgiveness

It’s been great to hear from members recently who have seen their student debt erased through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. For years PSLF was an utter failure, but a course correction by the Department of Education, driven in large part by activism from the AFT and others, has brought relief to thousands of borrowers and even returned erroneous payments made because of misinformation from loan servicers.

Last week I learned that both Mistie Ryan, president of the Lake Shore Federation of Teachers, and Autumn Pokone, president of the Roseville Federation of Teachers, got word that tens of thousands of dollars of their student debt had been erased. Mistie shared that when she “woke up Friday to this…it was like winning the lotto. Such a relief. I’ve been turning in the exact same documents yearly, the only difference is the settlement. I’m so thankful to Randi and our union for fighting for this.” 

To find out how you might shed your debt and reclaim your funds, you can attend the AFT’s virtual student debt clinics through March or check out the Summer debt counseling program

AFT Members Elected to Metro Detroit AFL-CIO Board

The Metro Detroit AFL-CIO held a Convention this Saturday. Among other highlights, several AFT leaders were elected to Metro Board: Terrence Martin (Detroit Teachers 231) as Trustee serving on the Board, Stephanie Carreker (DAEOE 4168), Donna Johnson (Detroit Paras 2350), Lynn Boza (HFCC AFO 377), and Meenakshi Mukherjee (AFT Michigan). And of course our own Daryl Newman, former AFT Michigan Member Community Mobilizer, was re-elected as Metro President.

AFT Report Documents the Toll of the Pandemic on Adjunct Faculty

A new national adjunct faculty survey from the AFT underlines the brutal economic reality faced by millions of contingent and adjunct faculty at the nation’s colleges and universities—and illustrates how the pandemic further eroded job security and bolstered the need for public help. Nearly 4 in 10 US adjuncts need government assistance to get by, with a quarter earning an annual salary below the federal poverty line. Nearly half struggle with extreme job insecurity. And just 20 percent say that they can comfortably cover basic monthly expenses. 

Read more at 

Michigan Broadband Office Needs State Funding

We are part of a coalition pushing for broadband internet access in Northern Michigan, which has started getting some good press coverage. An article in the Traverse City Record-Eagle highlighted our own Gary Wellnitz:  “An educator for 35 years in Mackinac County, Wellnitz now represents school districts from Clare over to Tawas and north to Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula. He said students and educators who live in rural areas with slow internet service are being increasingly limited by sluggish access.’Going virtual through this pandemic really opened our eyes to that,” he said. “Even when we’re not going virtual, those kids need the ability to do homework, to be able to do research in their homes — and we are just putting them behind their peers nationally and globally.’”

Join AFT Michigan’s Black Caucus

A recent report from Education Policy Innovation Collaborative noted only 5.8% of Michigan teachers identify as Black, showing that educators are far less diverse than the students we serve. Research has found that Black students exposed to at least one Black teacher between grades 3-5 are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend a four-year college or university. Once they get to college, only 5% of tenured faculty and 7% of nontenure-track faculty nationally are Black. 

We know school and college communities are made stronger when the staff is reflective of the students we serve and the broader diversity of our state. We support diversifying Michigan’s education workforce to reflect our students across many dimensions, focusing first on addressing the underrepresentation of Black educators in our schools and colleges. 

This group will bring together members to build community, paths for advocacy, and resources. Our goal is to complete concrete projects that will help increase the number of Black educators in the classroom.  To learn more about joining AFT Michigan’s Black Caucus fill out this interest form.

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

Treasurer Tuesday: Record Retention & Important DatesTuesday, March 15, 20227:00 PM8:30 PM
Labor & Social Movements Part I: Understanding Our HistoryThursday, March 24, 20225:00 PM6:30 PM
Labor & Social Movements Part II: How Our Movements are Connected in the Present DayThursday, March 31, 20225:00 PM6:30 PM

Support UAW Workers at Oshkosh Defense

The USPS’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicle is an opportunity for the Biden administration to make real investments in both a cleaner future and good union jobs, but the contract as it currently stands fails on both accounts. According to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, when public money is used to buy vehicles they should be electric and made in the United States with union labor.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) awarded the $6 billion contract for the next generation of postal vehicles to Oshkosh Defense, a company with a reputation for tough military trucks built with union labor with just a small number of electric vehicles on order. But instead of using this opportunity to expand quality jobs under a decades-old union contract, the company plans to refurbish a vacant warehouse in another state and build these vehicles without a commitment to union wages or representation

Sign the petition now and tell Oshkosh Defense that we can build it

Many are unhappy about the way USPS has gone about this contract for the next generation of U.S. postal vehicles because they will not help solve the problems of climate change, and they aren’t going to be built with union labor. USPS needs to fix its mistakes. Let’s Build Back Better and put letter carriers in union-made vehicles that are good for the planet.

Professional Development 

Share my Lesson

 Women’s History

Are your students familiar with the accomplishments of Emma Tenayuca, Tye Leung Schulze or Ella Baker? Have fun teaching about influential women from U.S. history in this collection.


Earn Free PD Credit March 21-24, 2022

Registration is open for the 40+ webinars that are featured in this year’s virtual conference! Check out the valuable content you need to inspire and support your students–and yourself.

In solidarity, 

David Hecker


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