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Thank You

On June 30, I will be stepping down as President of AFT Michigan. That day will mark 22 years as head of the state federation.

Thank you and your predecessors for this amazing opportunity.  Thank you for your tremendous work at the local level, for your great support of our state federation and for allowing me to lead this great organization for over two decades.  To have a job that allows one to work at their passion, to advance their values, to bring about positive change–I could not have been more fortunate.

Thanks to our locals, our board, and our talented staff, AFT Michigan has accomplished a great deal over the years.  We have gone through incredibly difficult times when the underfunding of K-12 education meant salary cuts for many.  Over the years, the state provided a lower and lower percentage of higher education funding.  Healthcare workers continued their incredible work in the face of chronic understaffing.  And there were all too many years that Republican Governors and legislators took away our rights–rights we are now winning back.   

But you never, ever gave up. Nelson Mandela said, “Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”  You did not fall; you were pushed down by opponents of public education and organized labor.  You were pushed down by too many elected officials and employers who had little respect for your amazing work.

You always got back up again.  No attack could eliminate your commitment to students and patients. No attack ever had you saying that you give up.  You persevered.

You bargained strong contracts, supported our work in organizing the unorganized, connected with the community, and beat the political drum.   To those who attacked us, you said: “Was that your best shot? Nice try, but we are moving forward, you will never stop our will and our determination to do right by our students, our patients, and our union.” 

To lead a state federation composed of locals like yours, to lead a union with a membership so committed to moving forward, regardless of who tries to stand in our way, has been the honor of a lifetime.

Last Thursday, our Administrative Board appointed Terrence Martin to fill the remainder of my term as AFT Michigan President and Kirsten Herold to replace Terrence as Secretary-Treasurer.

Many of you know Terrence, who I was incredibly excited and grateful to nominate as my successor. As staff and then as President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, he has done incredible work fighting to improve education in Detroit and beyond.  Working with him on a daily basis since he became our Secretary-Treasurer has only reinforced for me his talent, commitment and passion for this work.

Kirsten is President of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization at the University of Michigan and has chaired their bargaining team for many, many years.  I have worked closely with Kirsten this entire time and I can tell you she is insightful, dedicated and smart as a whip and will be a great partner to Terrence.

While I am stepping down as President of AFT Michigan, this is not good-bye.  The labor movement is my passion. My belief that public education is the very cornerstone of our democracy (as precarious as it is) will not change when I am no longer President, nor will my commitment to health care for all.  I will continue to advance progressive values and issues, be politically involved, and assist our great union in any way I am asked.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Over 700 Healthcare Workers Join AFT Michigan

Two groups of healthcare workers officially joined AFT Michigan since my last email. Last week, resident physicians who work for Wayne State University received official recognition of their newly formed union: the Alliance of Resident Physicians (ARP). The union’s majority support was verified by a neutral third party and the union received official notice of recognition from the University administration under the cooperative union organizing policy adopted by the Wayne State board. ARP is working to unite resident physicians across Metro Detroit, with this group of Wayne State residents joining their colleagues who work for Detroit Education & Research at the Detroit Medical Center as charter members of the union.

And then this morning, nearly 600 Michigan Medicine Patient Care Service Professionals, mainly working in surgery, Kellogg Eye Center and the UM Dental School from across the Michigan Medicine healthcare system have gained official recognition to become unionized with the  United Michigan Medicine Allied Professionals (UMMAP), AFT Local 6739, AFL-CIO.  They will be joining with over 900 workers already organized under the UMMAP banner. Congratulations to these two great groups of healthcare professionals and welcome to AFT Michigan!

3rd Annual AFT Michigan Pride Picnic

Big thanks to the 60+ AFT and UAW union members and their families who came out to celebrate at our Pride Picnic in Dearborn this past Saturday. We enjoyed good food, new and familiar faces, craft projects, and the launch of a new banner that our community painted. When LGBTQ+ workers and their allies stand together to fight and to celebrate, we build strong & proud unions that lift everyone. 

Are you an LGBTQ+ union member or staff? Interested in joining AFT Michigan’s Queer Caucus? Let us know here:

Final Push to Restore Public Sector Labor Rights in Lansing

Thank you to all the members who have joined us in Lansing in recent weeks. We are so close in our fight to restore educators’ bargaining rights! We need your help in two ways:

  1. Meet us in the lobby of the Michigan State Capitol next Tuesday, June 27, 2023 at 9:30am in your AFT Michigan or local union shirts to support our allies in the Senate! This is the last step before it heads to the Governor’s desk – let’s finish this fight strong! Click here for details and to RSVP!
  1. Tell Your Senator to Pass PERA+ Now! We need to urge our allies in the Senate to pass HB 4233-4, HB 4355-57, and HB 4044, HB 4280 and SB 359) and send it to the Governor’s desk before they leave for summer recess on June 30. Follow the link to send the attached letter to your Senator: Restore Educator Voice NOW

Thank You Linda Moore, Rose Kirtz and Stephanie Carreker

Three stalwart local leaders are retiring this summer. Linda Moore has been a great president of the Taylor Federation of Teachers, while also serving on our Administrative Board and on the general board of the MI AFL-CIO. With Linda’s leadership, the TFT achieved important gains and elected allies to the school board. Rose Kirtz has been the longtime secretary-treasurer of the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals and an activist within the state and national PSRP community. Stephanie Carreker filled the huge shoes left behind by Ruby Newbold as president of the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees. Stephanie was a strong voice for office employees and guided the local through the challenges of the pandemic.

Thank you Linda, Rose and Stephanie for all you have done and will continue to do as retiree activists.

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 to contribute and make a big difference in protecting public education and building a better Michigan future! 

In solidarity,

David Hecker


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