The Graduate Employees’ Organization, American Federation of Teachers Local 3550, endorses Samuel Bagenstos as a non-partisan candidate for the Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. We urge members of our local unions, of other unions, and of our community to vote for Mr. Bagenstos in the Michigan general election on November 6, 2018.
Samuel Bagenstos specializes in constitutional and civil rights litigation, and is currently a professor of law at the University of Michigan where he teaches about disability rights and employment law, among other topics. We are excited to endorse Mr. Bagenstos due to his long record of defending workers’ rights. He has argued four civil rights cases in the Supreme Courts, three of which saw Mr. Bagenstos defending the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. He has also argued cases to protect the rights of pregnant, disabled, and LGBTQ workers, and has testified in congress in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (which protects workers from discrimination based on their sexuality and gender identity). He has also represented families harmed by the Flint water crisis. Finally, from 2009-2011 Mr. Bagenstos was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, where he promoted the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mr. Bagenstos has shown a clear, career-long commitment to challenging injustice and defending the rights of workers. We believe his extensive background in civil rights litigation makes him uniquely qualified for a position on the Michigan Supreme Court.
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.