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AFT Michigan Members Testify at House Appropriations Committee

AFT Michigan was asked to assemble teachers to testify before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on School Aid as to why teachers are leaving the profession. We identified an amazing group of educators, including Zeinab Chami from Dearborn, Demetrius Shields from Detroit, and Mistie Ryan of Lake Shore, to share their struggles. The panel included educators from districts across the state, including the 2018 and 2021 teachers of the year, all of whom echoed similar sentiments around the lack of adequate compensation, unpaid student teaching and loan debt, school safety and the diminishing of teacher voice.

Demetrius spoke on his struggles to make ends meet after transitioning from dancing on Broadway to teaching at the Detroit School of the Arts; Zeinab shared how the burden of student loan debt and low compensation keeps her most successful students from considering a career in education; and Mistie highlighted how the lack of respect and the perpetual war on our educators turns off potential candidates from the field. It was so refreshing to hear our members report on the reality of our classrooms and speak truth to power.

UPDATE! Dave Dyckes Permitted to Resume Virtual Instruction at Cesar Chavez Academy 

Thank you to all of you who sent in messages supporting CCA ACTS member Dave Dykes. Last week Dave received word that his employer, The Leona Group, has reversed itself and Dave will be able to finish the year teaching virtually. Dave said “thank you to everyone who put themselves out there to speak on my behalf.” 

Register for Labor and Social Movements, Part 1: Understanding Our History

The history of working people’s struggle for justice has been inextricably linked to other movements fighting for freedom and equity.  AFT Archivist (and WSU AAUP-AFT 6075 Political Coordinator) Dan Golodner will be joining us on 3/24 to discuss some of the  interesting figures and key moments in AFT history when our union has intersected with other movements.

Join us to learn how our unions have historically been part of civil rights, women’s, LGBTQ+, disability, immigration, and other movements for justice.  

Register at

Wayne State Adopts Fair Organizing Policy

On Friday, Wayne State University joined the University of Michigan and Michigan State University in adopting an organizing policy that requires the University administration to remain neutral during any employee organizing campaign and to grant recognition to a union when a majority of the bargaining unit signs cards or a petition stating they want to be represented.  As it was at UM and MSU, the vote (in this case 6-2) was along party lines.  Many thanks to WSU Board Chair, and former Michigan AFL-CIO President, Mark Gaffney and all of the Democrats on the Board of Governors. Elections Matter!

Get Your Student Debt Forgiven 

More than 45 million people have student debt and many of them, including many AFT members and their families, are struggling with this burden. The AFT Student Debt Clinic program provides information about free federal programs that may help reduce the burden of this debt, while also highlighting the role that our union can play in addressing problems both within the workplace and in our communities. Additionally, the Student Debt Clinics provide crucial information and resources to help our members take advantage of the temporary expansion of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program before the expansion period ends on 10/31/22.

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, an online resource for AFT members to help navigate the student loan repayment landscape. 

Upcoming Union-Building Workshops

Labor & Social Movements Part I: Understanding Our HistoryThursday, March 24, 20225:00 – 6:30 PM
Treasurer Tuesday: Preparing for Local Financial ReviewsTuesday, March 29, 20227:00 – 8:30 PM
Labor & Social Movements Part II: How Our Movements are Connected in the Present DayThursday, March 31, 20225:00 – 6:30 PM

Beyond Oxford Workshops

We are proud to co-sponsor these upcoming dialogue sessions, facilitated by WSU UPTF #477 leader Barbara Jones. 

Register 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! 

Advancing Literacy

During National Reading Month, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan is promoting literacy initiatives through Read United. This program raises support to put more books in the hands of students and families.  We all can help enhance this program.

The United Way program includes:

  • Little Free Libraries – United Way is working to purchase and install 60 Little Free Libraries around Southeastern Michigan to ensure children have access to books. 
  • Book Fairs – in partnership with Scholastic, United Way brings free book fairs to elementary schools. All students at participating schools get a total of 10 free books a year. United Way has helped put more than 30,000 books in the hands of students over the past year alone.
  • Systems Change – United Way funds collective impact organizations like Pontiac Reads and 313 Reads, which are working to change the systems that lead to literacy inequities. 

How you can help:

  • Donate to directly impact local students by clicking here 
  • Sign up to volunteer with United Way and their literacy programs by clicking here 
  • Share these links on your social media outlets and with your family and friends

Professional Development

Join AFT’s Share My Lesson for free webinars that include teaching English Language Arts (ELA) or science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); building community and classroom management; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and so much more. 

Register for one or all of the sessions or find out more about these great sessions. If you can’t make it during the scheduled time, register anyway to have the on-demand link emailed to you!

In solidarity, 

David Hecker


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