Bucket brigade tries to convince state lawmakers to pay to fix Flint’s water system

Activists came to the state Capitol today to dramatize the need for tens of millions of dollars to fix Flint’s damaged water system.

A line of people passed little buckets of water from a faucet inside the Capitol building to a 20-gallon drum outside.

Ryan Bates with Michigan United says they wanted to show what it’s like to live in Flint without tap water people can trust.

Bates says state lawmakers should be doing more to help.

“There’s a bill in front of them that they can vote on today that would appropriate $123 million that could provide health care, infrastructure money for Flint,” says Bates. “They could do it, but they’re chicken.”

State lawmakers may vote in the next few weeks on sending more money to Flint.

Money for Flint is tied up in budget talks in Lansing. Those talks have become more complicated with word state revenues are below projections.

Michigan revenues are more than $300 million lower over this fiscal year and next than projected, forcing Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers to scale back the spending plan that’s been in the works for months.

The Snyder administration and legislative economists agreed to revised numbers Tuesday, a key step before the next state budget is finalized in the coming weeks.

State Budget Director John Roberts says spending levels should still rise, but not as much as anticipated in the governor’s proposal. Roberts says the administration remains committed to addressing Flint’s water crisis, though it’s possible some of money could be appropriated in the fiscal year starting in October instead of this year.

Activist Melissa Mays worries Flint’s money will be among the budget items on the table.

“I think very important things are going to get cut,” says Mays.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is urging state lawmakers not to reduce planning funding for the city’s water crisis.

“I would certainly hope that these potential budget cuts do not come at the expense of Flint residents. The people of Flint have suffered enough due to this man-made water disaster. It would be down right wrong to neglect the citizens of Flint yet again by not providing the funding needed to ensure that residents have safe drinking water, new pipes and the food, early childhood education and health care they need to mitigate and treat the effects of lead exposure.”

Job Posting: Deputy Director of Movement Politics

Michigan United is a statewide coalition of faith, labor, civil rights, and social service organizations working together for racial and economic justice through community organizing.

We are currently engaged in campaigns to:
  • ­Build a real democracy for all
  • Reform our immigration system with a path to citizenship and defend the rights of undocumented workers and families
  • Dismantle our unjust system of mass incarceration
  • Facilitate a just transition to sustainable energy and create middle­class green jobs
  • Advance an economic justice agenda, particularly around affordable child care, long­term care  for seniors, affordable housing and the prevention of predatory lending

Position Background

The deputy director of movement politics will manage organizers as well as canvass fellows as part of our 2016 civic engagement strategy. The deputy director will also be heavily engaged in the building of a pipeline of future candidates for elected office, with a focus on women and people of color.

The deputy director will report directly to the director of movement politics. This position will split time between Michigan United, and its 501(c)4 sister organization, Michigan People’s Campaign.

The goals of the program are to:
  • Promote civic engagement, voter registration and participation by residents of low ­income and immigrant neighborhoods in metro ­Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Flint.
  • Engage underrepresented voters in the electoral process
  • Build a pipeline of progressive public leaders, particularly women and people of color
  • Advance issue campaigns through public pressure on decision makers.
The deputy director will be responsible for:
  • Implementing Michigan United’s voter contact strategy.
  • Managing daily outreach efforts and canvasses;
  • Managing fellows as well as organizers
  • Voter targeting and data management
  • New staff orientation
  • Coordinating with issue staff to advance campaign goals.
  • Building a candidate pipeline
The deputy director of movement politics must:
  • ­Have their own reliable car. American ­made cars are strongly encouraged.
  • Have their own cell phone and computer.
  • Be comfortable working with a culturally, religiously, and economically diverse group of partners, members, and staff.
  • Be comfortable working with the public and talking to strangers.
  • Be prepared for long and sometimes unusual hours.
  • Spanish fluency is not required but is helpful.

The deputy director will be based in Detroit, Michigan but the position will require periodic travel to other parts of the state or outside of Michigan.

Applicants should have a high level of familiarity with social justice issues, electoral field work, and leadership development. Applicants should be prepared for a fast­paced work environment with a high ­level of autonomy.

The deputy director should be comfortable with modern office software and learning new technologies. A high level of familiarity with the Voter Activation Network (VAN) and Google software is required.

3 years Experience in some combination of the following is required:
  • Community organizing,
  • Political organizing or electoral canvass management experience.

Women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

This position runs through November 2016, but may be extended depending on performance and funding availability.

Salary is commensurate with qualifications.

Deadline to apply: Monday, May 23rd

Please send resume and cover letter to:

Bartosz Kumor, Director of Movement Politics at ​bartosz@miunited.org

Subject: Deputy Director of Movement Politics


“Fair Chances for All” says City Attorney’s will clear the way for hiring ordinance.

Michigan United group keeps up pressure as commission to take up proposal.

Despite pressure from residents, the Kalamazoo city commission has put off the issue of a ‘Fair Chances’ hiring policy as long as it could, but now it looks as though they’re running out of excuses. At their early April meeting, the commission decided to wait until they’d heard back from City Attorney, Clyde J. Robinson on the impact such a rule might have. Earlier this week, the city attorney’s office met with ‘Fair Chances 4 All’ (FC4A), the community group pushing for the anti-discrimination ordinance for employers who benefit from the city’s tax incentives.

FC4A leader  Kendall Campbell says everything Robinson told them in the meeting was positive and it appears he will green light the idea. “We are very pleased with the momentum we have built.” said Campbell. “In the policy drafted by the Attorney, all of our goals have been clearly met.”



Although the report may have been completed before Monday’s commission meeting, there is still another step in the process before they will take it up. Robinson must first officially submit his report to the city clerk before commissioners can digest it and address the issue at their next meeting.  “Our eyes are set on May 16th being our victory day. We expect this policy will be presented to the City Commission for a vote and we are very confident it will pass.”

Flint residents to demand federal intervention before President’s speech


“Flint Rising” coalition seeks disaster declaration

On the lawn outside Northwestern High School where President Obama is scheduled to speak Wednesday afternoon, representatives from Flint Rising will hold a press conference to appeal for federal assistance in the recovery from the Flint Water Crisis. They will be joined by Flint City Councilman, Eric Mays who will ask the President to pressure Governor Snyder to end his use of emergency management.

The Flint RIsing coalition is made up of local, state and international groups, organizations, unions that have banded together to keep pressure on government to solve the problems caused by the contamination of the Flint water supply.

Press Conference before President Obama’s speech in Flint


  • Desiree Duell, Flint Rising
  • Gina Luster, Flint resident and parent
  • Eric Mays, Flint City Councilman
  • Flint Rising members and supporters

12:30PM, May 4, 2016

South lawn of Northwestern High School in front of school sign
2138 West Carpenter Road, Flint, MI 48505


“Fair Chances for All’ to reveal details of pending Kalamazoo City Attorney report

City commission running out of excuses to delay action on anti-discrimination plan

The Kalamazoo city commission has put off discussion of a ‘Fair Chances’ hiring ordinance until they’ve received a report from the city attorney, Clyde J. Robinson. Earlier this week, Robinson met with ‘Fair Chances for All’ (FC4A), the Michigan United group that is pushing the commission to take up the rules preventing employees from inquiring about criminal records before hiring.

Before the next commission meeting Monday, FC4A will hold a press conference to detail what they discovered in their meeting with Robinson.  FC4A members will also have another tailgate party leading up to the press conference that will include roasted meats and sidewalk art expressing their hope for their loved ones.

Once inside, FC4A members will keep up the pressure on the commission with a speakout and creative direct action during the public comment period.

Press Conference detailing FC4A’s meeting  with the Kalamazoo City Attorney and what this will mean for proposed ‘Fair Chances’ hiring ordinance.


  • Jerrin Yarbrough, Kalamazoo area student
  • Kendall Campbell, co-founder of Humans Beyond Boxes
  • Lisa Bloomberg, Kalamazoo resident
  • Amy Vliek, Director of Admissions WMU School of Social Work

Monday May 2, 2016
6:00pm Tailgate & Chalk Up
6:30pm Press Conference
7:00pm City Commission Meeting with Speak Out & ACTION

Kalamazoo City Hall,
241 W South St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Capitol Day 2016

Join hundreds of Michigan United leaders and allies from across the state as we take over Lansing in the name of economic, environmental, and racial justice!

Click here to register for Capitol Day 2016 NOW!

We will meet with our legislators to push for grassroots solutions to injustices our communities face. Following the meetings, we will join with allies from across the state to amplify our voices against those causing pain in our communities by carrying out a DIRECT ACTION.

Michigan United will provide buses for transportation from Detroit and Kalamazoo. Detroit will depart from 6451 Schaefer Rd, Dearborn & Kalamazoo will depart from their office at 1009 E Stockbridge Ave, Kalamazoo. A logistics email will be sent to all registered attendees a week before the event with many details, including depart times and locations.

Please click here to register if you plan to attend. A space to enter attendees’ names will appear once you choose how many places you would like to reserve. Please include the names of everyone for whom you reserve a spot.

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please indicate any dietary restrictions when registering.

Childcare will also be provided. Please indicate if you will require childcare, along with their names and ages. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide childcare for children under the age of 2 years.

This is a FREE event. However, we greatly appreciate donations to help offset the costs. Click here to donate now! A donation of $60 more makes you an official member in good standing!

For additional information about Capitol Day 2016, please contact our office, 877-507-7774, ext 725 or email branden@miunited.org.

Community presses Kalamazoo City Commission to take stand on ‘Fair Chances’ ordinance

‘Fair Chances for All’  gets officials on the record

The Michigan United group, Fair Chances for All (FC4A) continued to step up the pressure on the Kalamazoo City Commission at Monday’s meeting. The group wants movement on their proposal that would help people returning from prison to find gainful employment.  However, the commission has deferred discussion of the proposal until after the city attorney returns with a report on the impact of such an ordinance –  not expected until May.

At the last meeting, lacking any meaningful discussion of the idea, FC4A held a symbolic vote of the people to demonstrate its popular support. Monday, Jerrin Yarbrough, a young Kalamazoo resident and member of FC4A, spoke on behalf of the issue. Yarbrough put the onus on the City Commission members to go on record with their support.

“We know the power actions actually hold, over words – whether those words are in the form of questions, concerns from the mouths of our citizens, or attractive excuses that are used for postponing from the mouths of those with the power to make change,” said Yarbrough. He then invited FC4A members in the audience, wearing orange tape written with the names of loved ones affected by criminal records on their arms, to stand with him. “Now, we invite you to stand with us,” he said.

Not only did many residents in the gallery stand in support, but commissioners Shannon Sykes, Matt Milcarek and Jack Urban stood in their places on the dais.

“This is our third time here.” Yarbrough stated, “It will be received as a formal indiscretion if you are to not respond in the time allotted for commissioner comments. Will you vote yes for the Fair Chance for All policy?”

In their public comments, Commissioners Sykes, Urban, Milcarek, Vice Mayor Cooney, and Mayor Bobby Hopewell verbally expressed support for the policy. Although she was not present at this meeting, Commissioner Erin Knott has also voiced strong support for the idea in the past.

“I am resolved to do everything in my power to make sure that ex-offenders get the fair chance they deserve,” said Vice Mayor Cooney.

Community members say they’ve found the delay in action particularly frustrating since, when they were running for office last year, all but one of the sitting commissioners said they would support ‘Fair Chances’ hiring policy. Yet, four months into 2016, no action has yet been taken.

Meanwhile, families continue facing barriers daily, filling out more and more applications, never to hear back.

“The only way I was able to turn my life around was that someone was willing to give me a chance – as a dishwasher at $6 an hour, which was minimum wage then,” said Matt Stone, now a Masters of Social Work student at Western Michigan University. “It was only because a friend vouched for me with the owner that I got the job. My friend told the owner I would work hard -which I did, because I was desperate for work. Many people with records are some of the best workers you’ll find, because we’re just grateful to get a job. But you won’t know that unless you take the time to talk with us, to give us a chance.”

The group plans to continue pressing the Commission in upcoming meetings to move the policy forward.

FC4A city hall

Job Posting: English Innovations Intern

Location: Detroit

Type: Unpaid, 2.5 to 5 hrs/week

Michigan United is a statewide organization of individuals, faith, labor, civil rights, small business, and social service groups working together for racial and economic justice through community organizing.

Michigan United is seeking dedicated tutors to assist adult immigrants increase their English language and digital literacy skills so that they can better achieve personal and professional goals and integrate more fully into civic, linguistic, economic, and cultural life in the United States.

Limited English proficiency is a significant barrier for many immigrants to fully integrate into life in the U.S. — getting a good job, having educational options, and participating in civic life. Limited English language skills are compounded by the gap in digital literacy in our technologically advancing world. English Innovations® is a blended social learning model that integrates English language learning in a collaborative, supportive classroom environment with online tools that enable self-paced, independent learning. The learning framework emphasizes a community-based approach, highlighting the importance of volunteer and peer support. The goal is to build needed community infrastructure to help immigrants achieve their dreams, bring relief to undocumented students and workers, and ensure the integration of English learners into our society and economy.

The Intern will be responsible for:

  • Tutor and mentor a small group of five students to help them see the class through fruition
  • Assist adult immigrant learners one-on-one in class with English language and computer literacy skills
  • Facilitate small group conversations
  • Help facilitate in-class activities
  • Conduct follow-up with students to encourage attendance and participation
  • Provide information and referrals to students transitioning out of EI class
  • Encourage and motivate learners via email and Skype outside of class

Qualifications & Requirements:

  • Complete volunteer application
  • Interest in immigrant communities and sincere desire to support others in achieving their goals
  • Ability to establish a relationship based on respect, with sensitivity to persons of different backgrounds
  • Attend a 2-hour pre-service orientation
  • Basic knowledge of technology (internet, email etc.) and digital literacy
  • Be highly enthusiastic, creative, and able to motivate others.
  • Spanish language fluency is a definite plus, but not required.
  • Previous tutoring experience a plus.

Time Commitment:

  • Minimum time commitment of one class session (2.5 hrs) per week for the 12-week duration of class cycle
  • Potential for regular, weekly communication with select students outside of the classroom via Skype, email, or other methods


  • Be part of a movement to transform the field of English Language Learning
  • Build and strengthen your facilitation, teaching and leadership skills while providing support to adult immigrant learners
  • Gain experience in community-based organizations working to advance immigrant integration across the country.

Visit www.miunited.org for more information about Michigan United. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply:

Please send a resume and cover letter to Lilia Rivera at lilia@miunited.org.

Indicate English Innovations Intern in the subject line.

Please direct any questions to Lilia Rivera at 248.410.4606.

Deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply immediately.

Application deadline is May 5, 2016 or until positions are filled.


Fight  for $15 calls for urgent fix to child care crisis, citing new report on widespread economic benefits to national investment in quality care and workforce

As child care workers and other underpaid workers prepare for the biggest-ever protests across the country on April 14,  child care advocates and parents in the Fight for $15 reacted today to a new national study that found widespread benefits to a national investment in quality child care and higher pay for child care workers, calling on their elected leaders to invest in affordable, quality child care and a stronger workforce.

The new report by the Economic Policy Institute released this week found that a national investment that caps families’ child care expenditures at 10 percent of their income could help more women join and stay in the workforce, boosting national GDP by about $210 billion and putting $5.7 (B) billion into Michigan’s economy. Making child care affordable would also save the average Michigan family $3,888 a year. Child care providers are currently among the lowest paid workers in the country, with a median hourly wage 39.3% lower than the median hourly wage of workers in other occupations.

Audio actualities from the tele-press conference are available for download by clicking here

“It doesn’t matter how much you make, you still have to pay for quality care regardless of income. And it’s just that much harder when you can afford it.” said Tina Patterson, mother of a 3 year old girl in Detroit, Michigan. “I don’t want to compromise the quality of my child’s care, but that can be difficult given the cost of child care.”

The report also found that fixing our broken child care system would put more money into the pockets of working people and improve the quality of care. A wage of at least $15 an hour would directly raise wages for 60% of child care workers. Higher wages, the report found, would also create incentives for child care centers to invest in staff training, ultimately improving quality and strengthening the workforce. Last week, 6.5 million Californians and millions of workers in New York—where the Fight for $15 began just three and a half years ago—celebrated a historic $15/hr win, in which more than 10 million workers secured unprecedented raises from coast to coast.

“Right now, Michigan’s Child Development and Care program provides child care subsidies to low-income working families with incomes below 121% of poverty.” Said Meredith Loomis Quinlan, Michigan United Child Care Advocacy Coordinator.We are advocating for the threshold to be bumped up to 150% of the poverty line in 2017. That would mean an income of just over $30,000 for a family of three. To provide access for those families, the state would need to invest an additional $44 million into the budget for the Child Development and Care program.”

At presidential debates over the last few months from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, child care workers have been protesting and calling on candidates to back $15/hr and union rights to get their vote. Last year, child care workers and parents in the Fight for $15 met with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the need for economic policies that strengthen the child care workforce and invest in affordable quality child care. Congressional leaders have introduced Senate and House resolutions calling for affordable, accessible care for all families and a living wage for all child care workers.


Fight for $15 to call for urgent fix to child care crisis, citing new report on widespread economic benefits to national investment in quality care and workforce

A new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released today found that a national investment that caps families’ child care expenditures at 10 percent of their income could help more women join and stay in the workforce, boosting national GDP by about $210 billion and putting $5.7 (B) billion into Michigan’s economy. Making child care affordable would also save the average Michigan family $3,888 a year.

Thursday afternoon, a telephone press conference will feature a Detroit parent and child care advocate reacting to the report and call on their elected leaders to invest in affordable, quality child care and strong workforce.

Fixing our broken child care system and paying child care providers at least $15/hr would directly raise wages for 60% of the workforce. Child care providers are currently among the lowest paid workers in the country, with a median hourly wage 39.3% lower than the median hourly wage of workers in other occupations. .

WHAT: Telephone press conference on EPI Child care report

WHO:  Tina Patterson, Detroit parent

 Meredith Loomis-Quinlan, Michigan United Child Care Advocacy Coordinator

WHEN: 1:00 P.M. Thursday April 7th, 2016

WHERE: Dial (712)775-7035, enter code 788747#