Let’s Celebrate, Analyze, and Build a Better Michigan
Tuesday’s election results were astounding. For the first time in my 39 years in Michigan, our allies (and yes, given increased polarization that generally means Democrats) will hold the three executive offices (Governor, AG, SOS), majorities in both the State Senate and House, and Michigan Supreme Court. Our endorsed candidates swept all eight state education board seats, maintaining majorities on those boards, and all three ballot proposals were adopted.
Celebrate: We don’t win every day. When we do, we should uncork the champagne and take a moment or two to cherish an incredible accomplishment. This is especially true for those who actively engaged this year and in prior campaigns. Those who gave some of their hard earned money to PAC, those who knocked on doors or phonebanked to persuade voters and get out the vote. You were a key part of these victories.
Analyze: Winning this election was phenomenal, but we also want to win tomorrow and the next day. So it is imperative that after we celebrate we figure out why the heck were we so successful. There is no question that the issue of protecting reproductive rights played a major role. Exit polls indicated it was the number one issue for voters, slightly ahead of inflation, with all other issues far behind. The amazing lack of quality candidates on the other side also played a role. Just one example: when the opposing candidate for Secretary of State believes that we transfer demonic forces within us to others through intimate relationships, well that helps. And we must remember that this year’s wins owe a great deal to the incredible work of Voters Not Politicians passing a ballot initiative ending political gerrymandering and Promote the Vote expanding access to voting.
What about the people power that is essential for getting people out to vote? The truth is that the turnout of members to canvass and phone bank was not what it was in prior years. This was true nationally, not just in Michigan and not just concerning our members. What do we need to do differently to reverse this trend? We raised more PAC dollars than we have in recent years, but that was thanks to a small number of generous members as opposed to increased giving across our full membership. What do we need to do differently to increase the number of people who give?
Build a Better Michigan: We are active politically for one reason–to advance good public policy. We have spent so much time over the past decades playing defense, trying to stop bad policy or make it “less worse.” Now we can be proactive. We have already begun compiling the list of Snyder-era attacks on working families, especially K-12 educators, and undercutting of public education–policies that can now be reversed. Once that is accomplished, we need to look forward to what we really need for public education, health care, the environment, equal rights, and so much more. It is said that some things come along once in a lifetime. For me it has been almost sixty percent of my lifetime for this opportunity to be before us. Working together with you, other unions, our community allies, and our friends in elected office, we will seize this opportunity and make a real difference for our students and patients, our children and grandchildren, and ourselves.
AFT Michigan Members Take Office
Carrie Reinghans of the UM Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) and Dylan Wegela of the Dearborn Federation Teachers are headed to the State House, joining Detroit Federation of Teachers member Regina Weiss, who easily won re-election. On the Senate side, former Wayne County Community College Fed of Teachers member Erika Geiss will serve for four more years. On the local level, congratulations to Michelle Cook, former president of the Hamtramck Federation of Teachers and AFT Michigan Administrative Board member, who was the top vote getter for Royal Oak School Board, Detroit Fed of Teachers’ Patti McCoin, who was reelected to the Plymouth-Canton School Board, our former Political Director and current Macomb County Commissioner Julie Matuzak elected to the Clinton Township Board of Supervisors. In Washtenaw County, LEO members are well represented in Ann Arbor, including Mayor Chris Taylor and City Council members Ayesha Edwin and Dharma Akmon, and on the Washtenaw County Commission, with Shannon Beeman and Justin Hodge.
And as you may know, Governor Whitmer was a member of the Union of Non-Tenure Track Faculty when she was an adjunct professor at MSU, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was a member of AAUP-AFT 6075 when she taught at the Wayne State Law School.
(Apologies to anyone we missed. If you are an AFT member who won public office this year please let me know and we will update this list the next email.)
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!
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month
November is National Native American Heritage Month. Teaching students about the culture, traditions, music, art, and world views of indigenous peoples is important to celebrating our shared sense of humanity. Celebrate this month with your students, and check out some Listenwise stories and other resources that could be helpful in bringing Native American heritage into your classroom this month and throughout the year.