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Photo of AFT President Randi Weingarten addressing TEACH 2023

The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.


WHAT'S NEW: A Tribute to David Hecker

Headshot of AFT Michigan President, David Hecker

The members of the DFT wish a happy retirement to David Hecker, as he steps down from serving as President of AFT Michigan. He has held this position since 2001 and has worked with this local closely for the past 22 years.   

Throughout his tenure, David has exemplified the true meaning of leadership. His vision, wisdom, and ability has assisted the DFT over the years through the numerous challenges our members have faced from the district and the state. David's exceptional ability to navigate complex circumstances and find innovative solutions has been nothing short of remarkable.  He has been an integral piece to every political fight in Michigan that educators are engaged in, especially fights directly targeting Detroit!

As we reflect on David's journey, it is impossible not to acknowledge his passion for education and advocacy. His unwavering commitment to social justice and equity has been an inspiration to all, reminding us of the power of education to create positive change in our society. 

Retiring AFT Michigan President, David Hecker, receives a plaque from DFT President, Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins.

Current DFT president, Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins has this to say about David Hecker: "We thank David for his leadership and support and how much it means to be a part of the AFT Michigan team. He has always pointed us in the right direction, especially helping me out as a newbie president of this local. He is a voice of reason and encouragement. I sincerely appreciate you being open to the needs of this local: space to hold a meeting, navigating technology and having our backs every time we faced adversity. The DFT recognizes the unwavering support and unrelenting guidance he provided that helps in leading this Union’s path to success.” 

Keith Johnson

Keith R. Johnson, DFT President Emeritus, had these kind words to share: "I had the honor and pleasure of working with AFT Michigan President David Hecker for nearly 20 years during my time as DFT Labor Relations Administrator, DFT Director of Operations, and as DFT President. 

During that time and beyond, David has consistently demonstrated the qualities you look for in a labor leader; passion for the labor movement, passion for Union members, passion for civil and human rights, passion for women's rights, passion for the working class, passion for the underserved and disrespected, passion for the quality of education for children from pre-k through post graduate education, and passion for his and all Unions.

If looking for a word to describe David, it would be PASSION!  

David was a tremendous asset to me and the DFT as we dealt with the most challenging times for Detroit Public Schools.  I could ALWAYS count on David to be wherever and whenever I needed him. David was dependable for his assistance, his knowledge, and support. 

I also had the pleasure of sharing a seat with him on the AFT Executive Council, where he brought that same passion for our causes on a national scale.  David could always be depended upon to offer his support to other locals, other members, and the causes we fought for. David's deep and abiding respect for the challenges we face as educators and support staff was unwavering, and he will leave a lasting legacy of what good leadership looks like. 

I thank and commend AFT Michigan President, AFT National Vice-President for his service, his dedication, and his friendship."

Ivy Bailey

Former President, Ivy Baileyshared  these memories of working with David Hecker: "David Hecker is the consummate organizer--extremely skilled and accomplished-- of the highest degree, complete in every detail. Let me give an example of  being “organized by David in some way. 

If there is legislation that needs to be passed. David will call every legislator that he knows who has any interest in the bill or knows of someone directly involved. He will galvanize all the AFT organizers to set up phone banks, organize community events, go door knocking. In the meantime, he’s meeting with everyone who has voting power to sway the vote. He’ll call every Union President and get them and their membership involved in all of the organizing activities. He usually knows how the vote is going to go, but you know that "you win some and you lose some".  David usually gets what he wants and we have all benefited from his skills. 

David, we’ve had our moments but you know we wish you all the best!!  Congratulations on a well earned retirement, that is, are you really retiring?"

David Hecker and Terrence Martin

Terrence Martin,  a former president of the DFT, who has been elected to succeed David Hecker as the president of the statewide federation, had this to say about his predecessor:  "David Hecker has been the epitome of a trade unionist. His commitment to the broader labor movement has been inspiring to all of us." 

As he embarks on a new chapter in his life, we wish him joy, fulfillment, and all the happiness retirement has to offer. David, your impact will be felt for years to come, and your legacy will forever serve as a guiding light for all those who follow in your footsteps. Congratulations, David, and thank you for everything you have done. 


Randi Weingarten at a Massachusetts high school

Summer is upon us, and parents, children and teachers are winding down from what has been an exhausting and fully operational school year—the first since the devastating pandemic. The long-lasting impact of COVID-19 has affected our students’ and families’ well-being and ignited the politics surrounding public schools. All signs point to the coming school year unfolding with the same sound and fury, and if extremist culture warriors have their way, being even more divisive and stressful.


In Defense of Public Education


AFT President, Randi Weingarten, addressed the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. about the current state and the future of public education. You may watch her speech, delivered on March 28, 2023, In Defense of Public Education. She outlines four strategies can help transform our schools to realize the promise and purpose of public education.

  1. Community Schools
  2. Experiential Learning
  3. Revive and Restore the Teaching Profession
  4. Parents and Community as Partners

What unions do


In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times  column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.

DETROIT – (August 19, 2020) During an emergency special meeting Wednesday, members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) voted to authorize a potential safety strike aimed at pressing the Detroit Public Schools Community District to implement basic science-based safety protocols before schools reopen during the continuing coronavirus pandemic. 

The vote authorizes the DFT executive board to call a safety strike if the union and the school district do not reach an agreement. Members voted 91 percent in favor of authorizing a safety strike. 

“Over the past few months our members have raised


Public Act 92 of 2017, which was signed into law today, discontinues the option to initiate a service credit purchase as of September 29, 2017. This change in the law has no other effect on your pension or retiree healthcare benefits, and it does not affect purchases you’ve already made or tax-deferred payment agreements you may already have in place.

If you’re planning a service credit purchase, full payment for the amount of service you wish to buy or a fully completed Tax-Deferred Payment (TDP) Agreement (R0392C) signed by both you and your employer must be received in our office by 5:00 p.m


Click above for a PDF document on the section on teacher evaluation in the new law. A link to the full bill can be accessed by going to:


Fighting for what we deserve

Randi Weingarten and NYC teacher Tamara Simpson

Attacks on public education in America by extremists and culture-war peddling politicians have reached new heights (“lows” may be more apt), but they are not new. The difference today is that the attacks are intended not just to undermine public education but to destroy it.