WCDP News: Empower Women and Workers

13 mins read

Emergency Family Hotel Program Alert

A number of concerns have been raised by caring community members about the welfare of scores of homeless families — our neighbors — who have been housed in hotels at the County’s expense for several months. Although the Emergency Family Hotel Program was due to end on April 1, the County Commissioners and county administrator have been working for weeks to ensure that families can remain sheltered.

As we have repeatedly documented in our general membership meetings, Washtenaw County — like many counties in the U.S. — lacks sufficient stable housing to accommodate all citizens. For greater understanding of this complex problem locally, see the video of our March 8, 2023 program on the topic. This graphic, issued by the County, is a temporary response to fears for the welfare of our unhoused neighbors.

The WCDP encourages all residents seeking more information to contact your County Commissioner. All of our Commissioners are Democrats who work hard to put the needs of county residents first. We thank them for their tireless service. 

April 1st Meeting: Community Violence Intervention: The Washtenaw County Approach to Making Communities Safer and Saving Young Lives

We’re trying a hybrid in-person and Zoom meeting this month. For the in-person crowd, we’ll be meeting at our old stomping grounds, the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center where, at this time, masks are optional.
Many of the gun deaths plaguing our communities are not the result of the horrific, heart-breaking mass shootings that make headlines, but are because of suicide, domestic violence and gun violence in our cities driven by generational poverty, disinvestment in communities and young lives, structural racism and the hopelessness and despair they create. Gun violence has become the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in this country. The WCDP April 1st General Meeting Program will focus on Community Violence Intervention (CVI) and our approach in Washtenaw County to preventing gun violence in our cities and townships and saving young lives. 

CVI can include hospital intervention after a young person has been shot or community-based intervention by CVI workers who interact with those likely to be involved with gun violence, either as perpetrators or as victims, in order to prevent gun violence from taking place. In Washtenaw County we are using a hybrid approach, incorporating both the hospital and community-based approaches while including efforts to address the conditions that foster gun violence. 

The WCDP April 1st Program discussion will be moderated by Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and include:

  • Billy Cole, CVI leader
  • Bryan Foley, CVI leader and representative of WeLive
  • Derrick Jackson, Director of Community Engagement, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office
  • Eli Savit, Washtenaw County Prosecutor
  • Justin Hodge, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, Chair

These subject matter experts who are doing the work will explain local CVI efforts, why they are considered best practices and are supported nationally, on a state level and locally. Information on a state-wide CVI Summit hosted locally on May 1st will be provided for those who would like to learn more. 

Attend in person:
The Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center (LRC) is at 4135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, 48108. The LRC is part of the Sheriff’s office complex. The most visible landmark from Washtenaw is St. Luke’s church, which shares a driveway with the LRC, immediately west of the church. Social hour with coffee and snacks begins at 9:15 am.

Attend via Zoom:
Join the meeting through Zoom beginning at 9:45:

Meeting ID: 897 0641 2525
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3rd Annual Louis Nagel Concert
April 23, 2023

Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 4pm

Join fellow Democrats for a benefit performance for the Washtenaw County Democratic Party by highly acclaimed concert pianist Louis Nagel featuring music by Beethoven. Includes a special introduction by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

Attend in person at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, or virtually by Zoom. For those who attend in person, light refreshments will follow the performance. Tickets are on sale now.

2nd Annual Women’s Empowerment Seminar-Sunday March 26, 2023

Join the Eastern Washtenaw Democratic Club and Washtenaw County Democratic Black Caucus for their 2nd Annual Women’s Empowerment Seminar on Sunday, March 26, 2023, from 4pm-7pm at:

EMU Honors College
511 W Forest Ave
Ypsilanti, MI  48197

Tickets are only $35 and include dinner, seminar, networking and empowerment. You may purchase tickets via Eventbrite or PayPal. Contact Crystal Lyte clyte.ewdc@gmail.com for more information.  

Volunteer Requests

We have two upcoming volunteer opportunities:

  1. Do you like to do research? Precinct Organizing is putting together a file with all of our Reps’ contacts and other info on the new districts. If you enjoy such tasks, and resource creation, contact Janet Cannon janetcdem@gmail.com
  2. Help us reach Democratic-leaning voters who don’t vote in every election:
    A recent analysis shows that the single largest group of non-voters in Washtenaw County in 2022 were in the 24–35-year-old age group. We are looking for volunteers to help crack this nut and help us to motivate ALL dem voters of all ages to vote in every election. Now is the time to build a strong strategy for 2024! If you have insight to offer or want to help, please contact Sandy Levitsky slevitsk@gmail.com.

Bring Joy and Learning into a Child’s Life! Buy a Book! 

In honor of National Reading Month, the WCDP’s Dems Care program has set up an opportunity for people to buy a book (or 3) for the young children in the Ypsilanti FLI Reading Tutoring program run by the WCDP’s own Caroline Nathan, who is an expert in early childhood reading.  The ability to read is foundational in so many areas, such as education, employment, healthcare, and quality of life. This reading program, focused primarily on 2nd and 3rd graders in the Ypsilanti Community elementary schools, is extremely impactful with children showing improvement even all online during Covid.  YCS has a very high family poverty rate and many of the children in the program rarely have the opportunity to get new books and are thrilled when this happens.

We are partnering with Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center, a small local Black bookstore in Ypsilanti. If buying the books online, please designate on your order that the books are to be held by Black Stone for the WCDP Book Drive. Choose in-store pick-up option (if given choice).

Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center
214 W Michigan Ave
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Phone: (734) 961-7376 

For those who buy on Amazon or other sellers, or shop in-person, books can be brought to the next WCDP General meeting on April 1st at the LRC or we can pick up from you. Questions: Katherineawyatt@aol.com and mhallthiamaka@gmail.com.

Right to Unionize Under Attack at Ypsilanti Trinity Health

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, long a treasured part of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti community, is no longer what it was. It has been absorbed by Trinity Health, based in Livonia and in its own words, “one of the largest not-for-profit, Catholic health care systems in the nation.” Its labor practices, though, are in stark contrast to both its non-profit status and its Catholic mission statement. 

On Friday 3/10, Rep. Carrie Rheingans, labor leaders Ian Robinson and Bob King, along with WCDP members Janet Cannon and Alyshia Dyer, responded to the call from labor attorney Marla Linderman to support health care workers who had been locked out of their schedules after a conflict with management around an effort to unionize. 

Despite their long experience and excellent working records, and despite chronic understaffing in the lab, this has now resulted in 13 technicians, and counting, being “terminated.” This conflict came to a head when a trusted and experienced lab manager was told by the supervisors to search the personal effects of a technician, who is known to be leading the effort to unionize, to find the list of those who support the union. The manager refused this completely illegal order and resigned in protest. Naturally, this caused a great deal of stress, and the management reps involved told people they could go home if they felt the need. All procedures in course were finished, and all protocols followed, before they went home. They have now been advised that their jobs, like good St. Joe, are no more. 

Things are tough in health care. As we work our way out of a grueling pandemic, workers are still bearing the burdens of chronic understaffing, and a growing climate of insecurity. The attempt to unionize grew out of those factors– throughout the county, aggressive and even violent incidents have threatened people in the labs, with no response from the new management. There is plenty of security– the supporters (and the workers) who went in on Friday to speak with management were met with guards, and a complete stone wall on the part of management– but for the labs, who have had people come in with guns, seen assaults from excited patients, and even been locked inside the labs by a particularly incensed person, there is none available. 

Said State Representative Carrie Rheingans, 47th district: “I’ve long admired Trinity Health’s dedication to their patients, staff, and community through my past work with them on rolling out the Affordable Care Act and community benefit activities. In my recent talks with them, other hospital and healthcare organizations, staff safety is at the top of their concerns, and I’m very worried about this too. I’m hoping these workers can get back to work, where they want to be. We’re so short on staff across healthcare professions, we really need them to be able to get back to serving patients.”

Ian Robinson, President of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO: “The labor movement in this county stands behind Trinity workers who perform vital health services every day for our community.  Their safety concerns are legitimate and must be addressed.”

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