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Native American Heritage Month

It has been quite the scene the last few nights at Truist Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves, with 40,000 people doing the “tomahawk chop” to rally their team in the World Series.  Frankly, it is appalling. As is having a tomahawk on their uniforms. And the name of the team itself, which equates Native Americans with Red Sox, White Sox, and assorted animals.   As we celebrate the indigenous people of the Americas this month, we all need to think long and hard about how society caricatures Native Americans, be it in major league baseball or at our schools and colleges. And we need to correct what is wrong.

Obviously, AFT represents many Native Americans in locals throughout  the country.  But we also include the Federation of Indian Service Employees, Local 4524, which represents more than 5,000 employees at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and other areas of the Department of the Interior. FISE is led by Sue Parton, a member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma, and more than 85% of the local are members of a federally recognized tribe.

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and AFT’s Share My Lesson has many resources for educators at You can also find more resources from the National Museum of the American Indian. Additionally, use this link from Native Land Digital to learn where different Indigenous peoples territories were prior to colonization. 

As many Native activists remind us, never forget that they are “still here.” In Michigan, many of our northern school districts serve large Native American populations and many locals partner with tribal communities; last year for instance, we worked with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians to distribute books to children via the AFT FirstBook program. This month, and every month, let’s all do our part to honor and respect indigenous Americans.

Governor Whitmer Vetoes Attacks on Voting Rights and Public Education

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed bills changing the process of submitting a provisional ballot by requiring voters to return to the Clerk’s office within 6 days to present an acceptable form of ID. Research has shown that such laws disproportionately harm voters of color and low-income voters and these bills were just another attempt to promote the “Big Lie.”

The Governor has also promised to veto HB 5405 and SB 687, which would create a voucher-like system to utilize state funds to pay for nonpublic schools via a complicated tax credit scholarship system. Anticipating the veto, there has been a ballot initiative proposed called Let MI Kids Learn. This initiative is designed to circumvent the Governor’s expected veto. 

Elections matter.

Build Back Better Will Fine Private Employers Who Violate Labor Law

While much has been written about Build Back Better, little has been said concerning a provision that will hopefully influence private sector employers to obey the law.  The current version of BBB would fine employers up to $50,000 for each unfair labor practice and up to $100,000 in cases where a worker was illegally fired. Currently, there is almost no downside for an employer to violate the National Labor Relations Act.  Elections matter.  PAC matters.

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 $52 a year to elect more candidates who share our values? Please visit and set up a recurring gift. For as little as $1 a week, YOU can make a big difference in protecting public education and building a better Michigan future! 

Tuesday, November 2 is Election Day!

Many of us have local elections Tuesday; if you haven’t already sent in your absentee ballot, make sure you get out and vote before polls close!

Upcoming Union-Building Workshops

Local Organizing Structures

How are well-run, sustainable, and thriving unions set up? Sign up for our Local Organizing Structure training on November 9, to learn about structural components and organizational practices that can help your union run effectively and efficiently, with attention to member participation and leadership development. This training will be of interest to union members and leaders who want to increase member engagement and create opportunities for members to grow.

Local Financial Review WorkshopSaturday, November 6, 20219:00 AM5:00 PM
Local Organizing StructuresTuesday, November 9, 20215:00 PM6:30 PM
Lobbying 101Wednesday, November 10, 20215:00 PM6:30 PM
Group Decision-Making (2 Sessions)Thursday, November 11 & 18, 20215:00 PM6:30 PM

Join an AFT Michigan Working Group

The AFT Michigan Administrative Board has created five working groups to help push forward our work in priority areas that have emerged from, and cut across, our Constituency Committees, and we are looking for members to add your expertise and passion to the groups (listed below, with target constituencies we will seek to involve):

  • Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline (All Constituencies)
  • Increasing the Number of Black Educators in Michigan (All Constituencies)
  • Support Staff-to-Teacher Pathways (PreK-12 Support Staff, Teachers, Special Ed/ISD)
  • Converting Part-time to Full-time Faculty (NonTenure-Track Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty)
  • New Deal for Higher Ed: Fighting Back Against Austerity Budgeting (Grads, NonTenure-Track Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty & Academic Staff)

Each group will begin with an Assessment Phase before moving toward recommending action steps to the AFT Michigan Administrative Board. Time commitments are flexible and will vary depending on the project and timeline. See descriptions of each group’s scope of work and interest sign up forms at

Professional Development 

Creating Class Community: Building Student Identity and Efficacy

AFT Michigan Virtual Workshop 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This workshop will introduce educators to a variety of modalities, strategies and materials to investigate the importance of classroom community as a way to help students build identity and efficacy. 

Click here to register. 

Upcoming Webinars

Barriers to the Superintendency: Exposing Racial & Gender Gaps in K-12 Education Leadership, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. EST

The Rennie Center and Eos Foundation will release never-before-seen data on the stark inequities in K-12 leadership. They’ll discuss the gender and racial barriers to the superintendency and what K-12 leaders, school committee members and policymakers can do about it.

Tips and Tricks for Saving Time with Share My Lesson, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. EST

Have you explored the new Share My Lesson website yet? We’ve made a lot of changes and improvements. Join Kelly Booz, Director of Share My Lesson to get the inside scoop on how to save time, minimize stress, have some fun, and find exactly what you need on the new Share My Lesson website. We’ll also share some tips and tricks for getting the most out of our newest features.

Strengthening and Sustaining the Educator Workforce: Now More Than Ever, Nov. 18, noon to 1 p.m. EST

Cross-institutional relationships are more important than ever in the wake of the isolation and disruption caused by the pandemic. Effective partnerships are complex and require intentional structures, dedicated resources, and shared goals and values. Please join the Educator Preparation Laboratory (EdPrepLab) for the Virtual Fall Forum, which will highlight research-based best practices in creating and supporting these types of partnerships. The forum will feature EdPrepLab district partners working to build and sustain high-quality partnerships that strengthen and professionalize the educator workforce.

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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