The Graduate Employees’ Organization, American Federation of Teachers Local 3550, endorses Paul Brown as a Democratic candidate for the University of Michigan Board of Regents. We urge members of our local, of other unions, and of our community to join us at the Democratic Nominating Convention on August 25, 2018, and to vote for him in the general election in November.
We are particularly excited to have the opportunity to endorse Mr. Brown because he is a current member of our sister union, LEO. He has shown tremendous and consistent support for lecturers and graduate student instructors during our past two years of bargaining. He is also a board member of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, of which GEO is a part, where he has done important work supporting local labor efforts.
Mr. Brown has taken a clear stance in favor of academic freedom and has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that the University of Michigan is a safe and welcoming environment for all workers and students. In our conversations with Mr. Brown, he indicated a willingness to learn and to listen to the needs of students and University workers.
We believe Mr. Brown’s background as an educator and higher education union member make him uniquely qualified to serve as Regent at the University of Michigan, along with his board experience.
How GEO Makes Endorsements
GEO’s involvement in electoral politics has varied throughout our 45 year history. For the most part the last decade has seen little to no involvement, beyond occasional voluntary canvassing efforts, and a brief uptick immediately prior to the passage of Right to Work legislation in Michigan in 2013. However, following increasing calls from the membership, this past year GEO distributed an online survey to gauge members’ (current) preferences for electoral involvement. Respondents (N=214 as of 7/17/18) overwhelmingly agreed that they would like to see GEO provide information on, and where relevant, endorsements for local races, especially those that would directly impact our members.
In response to this feedback, GEO formed the Electoral Action Subcommittee, which then drafted an Electoral Involvement Procedure, which was ratified by the Stewards’ Council and quickly put into practice in preparation for important upcoming local races, including the UM board of regents election. The Electoral Involvement Procedure outlines three options for how GEO can engage with local electoral races: endorsement, cooperation, and education.
We strongly encourage high member participation in this new process of electoral involvement. Relevant procedures, practices, messaging and framing will all require regular, ongoing input from members in order to best reflect what we want out of our involvement in electoral politics. We welcome all members to join the Electoral Action Subcommittee, which meets Wednesdays from 1:30-2:30 in the GEO office, 339 E. Liberty St, Ste. 340. Members can also participate in this important work by talking to their stewards and attending GMMs. We also strongly encourage members to become and remain engaged in local politics not only during but after elections! Endorsements require citizen accountability in order to produce the best effects for our members and the broader community.