HVALF Endorsement of Community Mental Health Millage

At our October 3rd meeting, HVALF delegates voted to endorse Washtenaw County’s proposal for a public safety & community mental health millage, which will be on the ballot this November 7th.

While the millage is more complex and less transparent than we would like, we nonetheless believe (based on our knowledge of the commitments of the majority of Commissioners and the Sheriff) that most of the funds raised will go to community mental health needs and, closely related, to keeping people with such needs out of our criminal justice system. These are vital priorities for our community that we whole-heartedly share with the Commissioners who back this millage.

We also believe that the workers on the front lines of community mental health service delivery — both those who are county employees and those employed by service providers that contract with the County — are seriously under-paid. Many of the latter are making around $9/hr, less than a McDonald’s worker, despite the much heavier responsibilities that they have. Entry level County employees doing this work start at about $14.66/hr., though they do get benefits.

Working with Commissioners who share this conviction, we will do our best to ensure that some of the millage money is used to raise the pay of those who do this vital work. If we are successful, this should help to reduce turnover, particularly among the lower paying service providers. Lower turnover, in turn, means stronger relationships between consumers and service providers, and the higher quality of service that results from increased knowledge and trust.


Rally in Solidarity with Charlottesville

Sisters and brothers,
I’m sure that by now all of you have heard of what happened in Charlottesville, VA.  I’ve just learned that there will be a rally tonight Sunday August 13 at 7 PM  on the U-M Diag in solidarity with those who challenged the white supremacists.   This is not much advance notice, I realize, but I wanted to share in case you can be there.  I will be and will represent.

In solidarity,
Ian Robinson
President, HVALF


Formation of the HVALF

Big news for our movement: On April 1, 2016, the Huron Valley Central Labor Council (HVCLC), AFL-CIO, officially became the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Our mission and goal remain the same: Bringing together local union leaders to build a labor movement that improves the lives of all working families. We work to achieve our mission by supporting struggles for worker rights and living wages in the workplace, and by changing the balance of political power to achieve racial and social justice in our region.

But this is much more than a name change. The creation of our new Area Labor Federation coincides with four important developments.

First, the HVCLC brought together delegates from local unions whose members lived or worked in two counties: Washtenaw and Livingston. The new, expanded HVALF adds Jackson and Livingston counties to create a four-county federation. We will be drafting a new constitution to reflect this and other changes in the structure of the HVALF this summer, and elections for officers under this new constitution will take place in January 2017.

Second, the HVCLC relied entirely on volunteers who were already leaders in their local unions and stepped up to put time and energy into movement-level work as well. Volunteers will remain the heart and soul of the HVALF, but our efforts will now be reinforced by the work of a full-time Field Coordinator. Adding staff support will enable us to deepen our member volunteer base, develop more young leaders, forge stronger links with community allies, launch new campaigns, and strengthen our political work.

Third, because of its new structure, the HVALF is eligible for Solidarity Grants from the AFL-CIO, which will enable us to bring staff support online in the very near future.

Finally, the HVALF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with two neighboring Central Labor Councils. Under this MOU, the Greater Lansing CLC and the Monroe-Lenawee CLC provide financial support for our Field Coordinator in the form of monthly per capita contributions, beginning on April 1, 2016. The MOU has two important implications: first, it enables us to maintain our Field Coordinator position after our Solidarity Grant money runs out; and second, it means that our Field Coordinator will help to develop programs and campaigns to build labor movement power across a nine-county region: the four counties of the HVALF plus Monroe, Lenawee, Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties.
Taken together, the changes associated with the formation of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation promise a more powerful regional labor movement with deeper roots in our communities and greater coordination and mutual learning across a nine-county area. It’s a promise we intend to keep.

Follow-Up Meeting and Background on AAPS Custodian

Join labor and community members for a follow-up meeting to strategize next steps in fighting for Ann Arbor Public Schools custodians:

Monday, June 30th, 8:00 PM
LEO/GEO Office, 339 E. Liberty, Suite #340, Ann Arbor

Here are two documents that provide some background. The first letter outlines the process that has been followed up to now, including what has happened since the Wednesday press conference. The second document contains the current worker co-op proposal.

Letter Re AFSCME Proposal (PDF, 435 KB)

AFSCME Coop Proposal (PDF, 7.8 MB)

Great Turnout for Ann Arbor Public Schools Custodians

On Wednesday July 24, a substantial and diverse group of people — union, community and religious leaders and activists, and a number of candidates running in local and state elections — gathered in front of Ann Arbor’s downtown library to demonstrate our support for the AAPS custodial workers of AFSCME Local 1182. This photo, contributed by Adam Zemke, captures quite a few of us.

It was a great rally, followed by an even more spectacular School Board meeting. Public comment, followed by a direct action Mic Check, won us a meeting Thursday morning 6/25

Union and community members supporting Ann Arbor Public Schools custodians on June 24, 2014.

Union and community members supporting Ann Arbor Public Schools custodians on June 24, 2014. Photo by Adam Zemke.

. We’ll keep you posted as to what comes out of that meeting and what our next steps will be.