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Ruby Newbold Was a Force to be Reckoned With

Support Staff Union Leader Dies at 70

When Ruby Newbold died this past Thursday, we lost a compassionate, strong, outspoken and determined leader who made a positive difference in the lives of so many.  Ruby served as President of the Detroit Association of Office Employees, AFT Local 4168, from 1995-2018, served on the AFT’s Executive Committee and Council, chaired AFT’s Support Staff Program & Policy Council and Civil Right Committee. Ruby was a member of our Administrative Board and  led our work on support staff issues, as well as holding leadership positions in a number of AFL-CIO bodies.  She was a political leader in the City of Detroit and beyond.

Much more important than titles, Ruby was a force. She did not take any crap from anyone.  She spoke out, stood up and made things happen. She was outspoken in support of school support staff who play such an essential, yet underappreciated, role in the education of our students.  Whether it was  better pay, benefits and working conditions, or just plain old respect, no one fought harder or more persistently than Ruby.

A graduate of Detroit’s Northwestern High School and Wayne State University, Ruby led DAEOE during some of the most difficult times in the local’s long history.  Detroit Public Schools student count was continuously declining and state funding on a per pupil basis (as it is today) was totally inadequate, and many administrators looked to cut costs on the backs of workers. Ruby served as Chair of the DPS Coalition of Unions during this time. Thankfully, she was willing and able to get in the ring with anyone, and many were not so inclined to take her on.

I first met Ruby when I worked at the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO and DAEOE rented office space from the Labor Council. Then when  I came to work at AFT Michigan in 1996, I had the privilege of working with Ruby on a regular basis. Like so many others, I valued her intelligence, tenacity and warmth.

Thank you Ruby.  You will never be forgotten.

AFT Michigan Members Testify Before the House Labor Committee

Last Thursday, Donna Jackson, President of the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals, Local  2350, Lincoln Stocks, President of the Eastpointe Federation of Educators, Local 698, Detroit Federation of Teachers, Local 231 President Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins and activists Dwan McGrady and Nastassia Szpaichler offered testimony in support of HB 4044. HB 4044 repeals PA 54 which freezes any step increases, makes employees fully responsible for healthcare increases, and prohibits retroactive pay if a collective bargaining agreement expires before a new one is reached. The members effectively highlighted other issues impacting educators from the various prohibited subjects of bargaining, the privatization of support staff and the limitation of some bargaining rights for DPSCD teachers. Their testimony set the stage for a future slate of bills that will restore the rights of educators across our state and address the critical teacher shortage we are facing. We will continue to work with our allies to ensure our members can make their voices and experience heard as these bills move through the legislature. 

Macomb ISD Fed of Paras and Teachers Participate in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge 

On Saturday, February 28, members of the Macomb ISD Federation of Paraprofessionals #6216 and Macomb ISD Federation of Teachers #2144 participated in the Macomb County Special Olympics Polar Plunge. The Polar Plunge takes place each year at MacRay Harbor in Harrison Twp. This year’s event included both a 5K Charity Walk and the Polar Plunge. The group from MISD raised over $25,000 of the $1,531,594 raised to date! 

Whether you walked, plunged, cheered participants or brought tickets for the raffle baskets, a good time was had by all. Save the date for next year’s Polar Plunge – February 24, 2024.

The Definition of Trade Unionism – and a CMU Board Member

Governor Whitmer recently appointed Todd Regis to the Board of Central Michigan University.  Todd is the Director of Legislative and Community Affairs for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951.  This is Todd’s official headshot taken by the University.  Zoom in and you’ll see that he is wearing the lapel pins of AFT Michigan and the MEA local of tenured faculty.  That’s trade unionism.

REI Workers Form Union At Ohio Store

Congratulations to the workers at an REI store near Cleveland, who voted 27-12 in favor of unionizing – the third REI to organize in the last year.

Remembering Legendary Labor Leader and President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, Tom Donahue

Former national AFL-CIO president Tom Donahue passed away last week. Tom’s  career spanned six decades starting as a part-time organizer with the Retail Clerks International Union in New York City and rising to secretary-treasurer and president of the AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler remembered that “Tom was an innovator, intellectual and a visionary labor leader who was ahead of his time. Long before the future of work and the impact of technology on workers became a robust policy debate, Donahue was creating a blueprint for unions that encouraged experimentation with new approaches and technology to expand worker organizing and increase the labor movement’s influence. That blueprint served as a guide that still influences union innovation today.”

On the international level, Tom helped lead the labor movement’s support for the independent Polish trade union Solidarnosc in the 1980s and was a vocal critic of oppression in any form, leading a call for unions to boycott apartheid-era South Africa. 

Tom’s wife, Rachelle Horowitz, served on the AFT staff.

WSU Labor Studies Center Spring WISE Conference

Conference Logo

Thursday, April 20—Saturday, April 22, 2023 at the Hollywood Casino Hotel at Greektown 

The Labor Studies Center at Wayne State University has created the WISE (Workers in Solidarity & Education) conference series that is committed to the teaching and learning of workers through innovative and advanced labor education programs. During the three-day WISE@Wayne conference, participates will attend one advanced labor education workshop and interactive general sessions that include speakers, panels and group exercises

Participants may register online or by calling the Labor Studies Center at 313-577-2191.

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! 

2023 Michigan School for Women Workers

Women in Leadership Empowering Us All!

April 27-29, Somerset Inn, Troy, Michigan

The Michigan School for Women Workers invites all union and non-union workers and activists from allied organizations to share ideas and grow skills for responding to the challenges facing working people. We welcome participants from all genders and all cultural or ethnic backgrounds.

Click here for more information and to register.

Professional Development 

AFT Michigan Professional Development Virtual Workshop 

Data and The Equity Lens

Saturday, March 11, 2023

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This workshop will introduce attendees to diverse ways of interpreting student data using an equity lens, and addressing the inequitable norms and patterns.

Participants will receive 6 SCECHs after completion of the workshop. 

Click here to register. 

AFT Share My Lesson 2023 Virtual Conference 

Registration is now open for the AFT Share My Lesson annual virtual conference, to be held March 21-23! Featuring 30+ free, for-credit sessions, this professional development event is one not to miss for preK-16 teachers, school staff and parents. Sessions will run each day from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT and will span the curriculum, including dedicated sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion and social-emotional learning and mental health. You’ll learn professional strategies and tactics to continue to foster the emotional and scholastic development of students in a post-pandemic environment.

Win a trip to Washington, D.C.! By joining the virtual conference, you’ll have a chance to win one of three trips to Washington, D.C., for the AFT TEACH conference this summer. Enter now.

In solidarity

David Hecker


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