Michigan residents to lobby representatives on issues affecting their families

‘The People’s Lobby Day’ Michigan United’s 7th annual Capitol Day gathering

The People’s Lobby Day is a day of direct action and participatory democracy. Residents with shared concerns form into teams to confront lawmakers with issues of Criminal Justice Reform, The Long Term Care Study Bill (HB4674), Universal Family Care, Medicare for All, Water for Flint, and Immigration.

A  rally will be held in the city hall plaza at 12:30 PM when participants in The People’s Lobby Day will welcome pilgrimages for immigrant families that walked from Detroit and Kalamazoo to the capitol.

A 90-mile “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” kicked of in Detroit on Monday, May 14th, from the church where Ded Rranxburgaj (RAHNS-bur-guy) has sought sanctuary from deportation.He is the sole caretaker for his wife Flora, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair for mobility. The First Congregational church in Kalamazoo has been walking for Saheeda Perveen Nadeem who has been taking sanctuary in their church. If deported, Saheeda would return to a country where she would face the threat of violence with no family support.

The Rally will conclude with the announcement of a planned direct action to address the Flint Water Crisis. In years past, members have occupied the Governor’s building, the office of the speaker of the house and formed a bucket brigade carrying water out of the Capitol building. This year’s action will address the shutdown of bottled water distribution pods.

 

Pilgrimage to keep immigrant families together stops at ISKCON temple

Families of Cile Precetaj and Ded Rranxburgaj fight deportation to Albania

A 90 mile march from Detroit to Lansing in support of immigrant families in Michigan faced with deportation concluded its second day with a dinner at the ISKCON Temple in Farmington Tuesday. On Monday, the “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” left Central United Methodist Church where Ded Rranxburgaj has taken sanctuary rather than be taken from his wife, Flora and two sons, Eric and Lorenc. Ded is the primary caregiver for Flora who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and relies on a wheelchair. He hasn’t been able to leave the church even when his Flora had to be taken to the hospital.

“This pilgrimage is about educating people about the broken immigration system and specifically shining the light on the Rranxburgaj family and their plight.” Said Rev. Jill Hardt Zundel, Pastor of Central United Methodist Church. “People have no idea how immoral the system is that would separate a caregiver from his wife who has MS for 11 years. We will end at Lansing where we will meet with legislators to change the systems that oppress!”

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When the pilgrims arrived in Farmington, they met Mikey, Megan and Martina, the children of Cile Precetaj, an Albanian woman awaiting deportation in St. Claire County jail. Her kids had a message for Rebecca Adducci, the regional director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): “Please don’t destroy our futures. Give our mom back.”

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The Birmingham Temple has also been a comfort to immigrant families in distress. “For almost nine months our congregation has been helping a Syrian refugee family whose father was deported leaving mom and four young children behind.” Said Rabbi Jeffrey Falick. “Our original goal was to help them navigate their way to becoming Americans. This goal took a sad turn when this administration cruelly withdrew the family’s temporary protected status which allowed mom to work while they applied for asylum. This left the family with no income whatsoever. Since then our congregation has raised almost $10,000 which, together with funding from ACCESS and its donors, has kept the family alive. This sad story is all too typical of what is now happening in our country to people who sought nothing more than relief from the horrors of war.”

IMG_7319Farmington and Farmington Hills State Representative Christine Grieg (D-37) was inspired by the activism and encouraged the pilgrims to carry on. “Our community can lead the way to change. By showing the solidarity that we have here tonight, by taking it to the streets, by taking it to the polls, we can change the direction of the state and of the country.” Rep Grieg said.

The pilgrimage will begin again Wednesday as the group continues up Grand River Ave. towards New Hudson where they will next share stories over a potluck dinner in James F. Atchison Memorial Park.

Ded Rranxburgaj Sends Off Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together

Faith leaders march to Lansing, visit wife, Flora in hospital

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Ded Rranxburgaj, an Albanian immigrant, waved goodbye from Central United Methodist Church, where he has taken sanctuary from deportation, as Rev. Jill Zundel and other faith leaders began a nine-day march to Lansing on his behalf to ask the director of the Detroit ICE Field Office, Rebecca Adducci, to grant Ded a Stay of Removal and stop separating families.

Rranxburgaj had been allowed to stay in the United States to take care of his wife, Flora, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), under immigration policies prior to the presidency of Donald Trump. As Trump enacted changes, Rranxburgaj was forced to take sanctuary at the church with his wife, Flora, and two sons.

Flora had planned to start the pilgrimage along with the family’s advocates but was hospitalized after becoming ill over the Mother’s Day weekend due to her MS. The first stop of the pilgrimage was visiting Flora at the hospital, where she is recovering.

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“It is so terrible that my wife is sick in the hospital, and I cannot be there with her. Every time she had to go to emergency over the past 11 years, I always went with her. But now, I cannot leave this church, and that is very hard,” said Rranxburgaj.

“This is the second time we have called 911 since they took sanctuary in January. Because ICE will deport Ded if he leaves the church, he cannot visit his wife in the hospital, so we must visit her for him. And that is what this pilgrimage to keep families together is about. Ded can’t march to Lansing for himself, so we must march for him,” said Rev. Jill Zundel, pastor of Central United Methodist Church, where Rranxburgaj has taken sanctuary. “They have taken away his freedom, and Flora’s dignity, so we must act for them.”

Dozens of supporters left the church to begin the 90-mile march to Lansing with signs in support of the Rranxburgaj family and ending deportations.

“I don’t know what I would do if my husband was deported. Who would take care of me? Who would take me to the hospital? I don’t know why ICE is doing this to me, to my family,” said Flora Rranxburgaj.

Supporters will make stops each day to tell the family’s story and show support for other immigrant families separated by deportation.

Job posting: Universal Family Care Organizer

Organization Background

Michigan United is a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity and potential of every person. Created out of the merger of MOP (Michigan Organizing Project) and AIR (Alliance for Immigrant Rights), we have won major victories to improve the lives of those who have been marginalized by poverty, racism, and inequality. We organize along the following issue areas: immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, universal family care (including health, child care, elder care and paid sick time), and civic engagement. Our main office is in Southwest Detroit, with additional offices in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Flint.  As a racial and economic justice organization, we actively encourage individuals who are underrepresented on the basis of racial, ethnic, economic, and sexual orientation(s), as well as those who share the life experiences of the members we serve, to apply. Come and be a part of our team!

Position Summary

Universal Family Care is a campaign that is advancing a vision of dignity and justice for children, elders, and people with disabilities who need some type of caregiving. We are building a campaign around the premise that Michiganders deserve high quality care to live full and healthy lives, from infants and young children to older adults and people with disabilities. The campaign seeks to develop the talents of people most impacted by limited access to care or insufficient wages as caregivers. We are developing leaders across the state to employ a variety of tactics to build the people power we need to move this issue politically. The Universal Family Care Organizer will report to the Director of Universal Care and will be responsible for building support for universal family care in key districts across the state.

The organizer will be responsible for building relationships with constituents, developing a core team of leaders, organizing events, and training volunteer leaders.  Statewide travel is expected for this position.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Conduct 1:1 meetings with potential leaders who are impacted by issues targeted by the Universal Care Campaign
  • Schedule meetings with elected representatives to advance the agenda of Universal Care across Michigan
  • Use social media and other tools to educate the public on issues of Universal Care
  • Plan and execute actions that create awareness
  • Effectively represent Michigan United within coalitions made of other community organizations
  • Work closely with staff in Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids to achieve unity of purpose (while there may be difference in execution) across the state, and identify opportunities to connect the work of Michigan United across the state
  • Build membership base of leaders who can carry out actions to effect change
  • Teach organizing strategies and tactics
  • Prepare reports of activities as requested
  • Canvassing and phone banking as necessary
  • Contribute to organization fundraising initiatives
  • Other duties as assigned

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Exemplary communication skills and the ability to communicate with equal effectiveness to marginalized community members as well as major donors
  • Excellent judgment in day-to-day decisions and ability to operate with limited daily supervision
  • Self-starter and motivated
  • Ability to work individuality AND function as a part of an organization
  • Knowledge of principles of community organizing and advocacy strategies
  • Highly organized and meets deadlines
  • Familiar with database management, data reporting systems, and computer programs (Microsoft, Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Docs)

Previous Life and/or Educational Experiences

(* notes which are preferred, but not required)

  • 1-3 years of organizing experience*
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills (demonstrated)
  • Proficiency in another language (Spanish)*

Working Conditions

  • Office environment with moderate amounts of standing, walking, climbing stairs, ability to lift 25 lbs
  • Normal business hours, some additional hours (evenings and weekends) required
  • Detroit-based, with travel across the state
  • Reliable transportation required

Salary & Benefits

  • Pay Range: $30K – $36K
  • Benefits: Health care, Health savings account, two-month paid sabbatical after 4 years of service, phone and travel stipends

Application Details

  • Resumes will be accepted on a rolling basis. Priorities will be given to those received no later than May 31, 2018.
  • Submit resume, statement of interest, and name & contact information of three references (at least two references must be work related, one may be personal)
  • Please put the name of the position you are applying for in the subject line
  • Resumes that do not adhere to these instructions will be discarded

 

Job posting: Regional Organizing Manager – Kalamazoo

Organization Background:

Michigan United is a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity and potential of every person. Created out of the merger of MOP (Michigan Organizing Project) and AIR (Alliance for Immigrant Rights), we have won major victories to improve the lives of those who have been marginalized by poverty, racism, and inequality. We organize along the following issue areas: immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, universal family care (including health, child care, elder care and paid sick time), and civic engagement. Our main office is in Southwest Detroit, with additional offices in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Flint.  As a racial and economic justice organization, we actively encourage individuals who are underrepresented on the basis of racial, ethnic, economic, and sexual orientation(s), as well as those who share the life experiences of the members we serve, to apply. Come and be a part of our team!

Position Summary:

Under the direction of the Managing Director, the Regional Manager – Kalamazoo will be responsible for managing a team of community organizers and service providers in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids in a way that contributes to the growth and sustainability of Michigan United on the west side of the state. In addition, this person will lead the charge for growing the presence of Michigan United in Kalamazoo and surrounding communities through raising money and expanding our relationship with churches, labor unions, community organizations, and individuals. This person will serve on the organization’s senior leadership team, as the voice for the west side of the state. They will also work closely with the Detroit-based Executive Director and the Development Director.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

 

  • Manage staff of 3-5 community organizers and/or service providers who work in different issue areas
  • Be the face of Michigan United to the Kalamazoo community, representing our work, values, and vision in a way that is inclusive, respectful and engaging
  • Establish and maintain strong relationships with funders on the west side of the state and submit grant and funding proposals
  • Recommend and develop areas of focus or campaigns that are consistent with the Michigan United vision to undertake in the Kalamazoo area
  • Work closely with staff in Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids to achieve unity of purpose (while there may be difference in execution) across the state, and identify opportunities to connect the work of Michigan United across the state
  • Build membership base of faith and community-based organizations in Kalamazoo
  • Support media placement of stories featuring work of MU and its leaders
  • Other duties as assigned

 

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

 

  • Familiarity with best practices in non-profit management
  • Exemplarily communication skills and the ability to communicate with equal effectiveness to marginalized community members as well as major donors
  • Excellent judgement in internal and external communication and in managing internal and external relationships
  • Knowledge of (or willing to learn) principles of community organizing and advocacy strategies
  • Highly organized and meets deadlines
  • Familiar with database management, data reporting systems, and computer programs (Microsoft, Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Docs)

 

Previous Life and/or Educational Experiences

(* notes which are preferred, but not required):

 

  • 3-5 years of supervisory experience
  • Strong written communication skills (demonstrated)
  • Development, and grant writing experience within the Kalamazoo foundation network
  • Deep connections to and relationships within the greater Kalamazoo community
  • Proficiency in another language (Spanish or French)*
  • Bachelor’s degree (Social sciences, Social Work, Business, Non-profit management, or related field)*

 

Working Conditions:

  • Office environment with moderate amounts of standing, walking, climbing stairs, ability to lift 25 lbs

 

  • Normal business hours, some additional hours required
  • Kalamazoo-based, with some travel to Detroit and Grand Rapids

 

Salary & Benefits:

 

  • Pay Range: $45-50K
  • Benefits: Health care, Health savings account, two-month paid sabbatical after 4 years of service, phone and travel stipends

 

Application Details:

 

  • Resumes will be received on a rolling basis, however, reference will be given to applications received on or before May 31, 2018
  • Submit resume, statement of interest, and name & contact information of three references (at least two references must be work related, one may be personal)
  • Please put the name of the position you are applying for in the subject line

 

 

Job posting: Managing Director

Organization Background

Michigan United is a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity and potential of every person. Created out of the merger of MOP (Michigan Organizing Project) and AIR (Alliance for Immigrant Rights), we have won major victories to improve the lives of those who have been marginalized by poverty, racism, and inequality. We organize along the following issue areas: immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, universal family care (including health, child care, elder care and paid sick time), and civic engagement. Our main office is in Southwest Detroit, with additional offices in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Flint.  As a racial and economic justice organization, we actively encourage individuals who are underrepresented on the basis of racial, ethnic, economic, and sexual orientation(s), as well as those who share the life experiences of the members we serve, to apply. Come and be a part of our team!

Position Summary

Reporting to the Executive Director (ED), the Managing Director (MD) will act as the head of internal operations of Michigan United while partnering closely with the ED to chart Michigan United’s growth and strategic response to an ever-increasing demand for the organization’s services, organizing, and civic engagement work. The incumbent will manage a team of 4-5 community organizing directors (each who head a specific issue area). The Managing Director will be responsible for instituting and encouraging the use of best practices for non-profit management and identifying ways to operate more efficiently. The ideal candidate has community organizing experience and has been a part of a turn-around effort and contributed to positive cultural change in a growing organization.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

    • Lead the program management of activities undertaken by issue teams (immigrant rights’, universal care, criminal justice, environment, and civic engagement) to ensure they are consistent with the organizational mission, leader expectations, and occur on time and within budget.
    • Manage increasing segments of information technology, human resources (recruiting, reviews, staff deployment/workload balancing, and career progression) with related internal communications and processes.
    • Identify best practices and improve internal systems with an eye toward future needs and budget realities.
    • Mentoring, coaching; visible, approachable sounding board/resource for front-line staff
    • Work closely with staff in Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids to achieve unity of purpose (while there may be difference in execution) across the state
    • Other duties as assigned

 

 

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

 

  • A high degree of emotional intelligence and desire to prioritize racial and economic justice in decision-making
  • Experience in non-profit management
  • Skilled project manager
  • Knowledge of principles of community organizing and advocacy strategies
  • Ability to perform with a high degree of skill in a fast-paced work environment
  • Exemplarily communication skills and the ability to communicate with equal effectiveness to marginalized community members as well as major donors
  • Excellent judgement in internal and external communication and in managing internal and external relationships
  • Highly organized and meets deadlines
  • Familiar with database management, data reporting systems, and computer programs (Microsoft, Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Docs)

 

 

Previous Life and/or Educational Experiences

(* notes which are preferred, but not required)

 

  • 5 years of experience in a senior management position (non-profit preferred, but not required)
  • Strong written communication skills (demonstrated)
  • Bachelor’s degree (Social sciences, Social Work, Business, Non-profit management, or related field)
  • Experience in Human Resources
  • Proficiency in another language (Spanish or French)*

 

Working Conditions

  • Office environment with moderate amounts of standing, walking, climbing stairs, ability to lift 25 lbs

 

  • Normal business hours, some additional hours required
  • Detroit-based, with some travel to Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids

 

Salary & Benefits

 

  • Pay Range: $63,500 – $67,250
  • Benefits: Health care, Health savings account, two-month paid sabbatical after 4 years of service, phone and travel stipends

 

Application Details

 

  • Applications will be received on a rolling basis, but priority will be given to applications submitted by May 31, 2018
  • Submit resume, statement of interest, and name & contact information of three references (at least two references must be work related, one may be personal)
  • References should be provided in a separate document (with the name of the candidate on the document)
  • Please put the name of the position you are applying for in the subject line

 

 

Immigrant Families & Advocates Press for Rights at May Day Rally

Coalition demands rights for all working families

Clark Park was the gathering site for a large coalition of groups calling for immigration reform on May Day, International Workers Day. Michigan United was part of the coalition that insists the rights of working families are crucial regardless of ethnicity, immigration status or national origin. Flora Rranxburgaj who has multiple sclerosis (MS) spoke at the rally. Flora is the wife of Ded Rranxburgaj who is her sole caretaker and the family’s breadwinner. Ded is also in sanctuary at Central United Methodist church as protection against his being deported and depriving his wife of care and their two teen sons of their father. Flora and the pastor at the church where Ded is in Sanctuary both spoke out about the role of local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I have been sick with MS for 11 years, and my husband takes care of me every day, said Flora whose immigrant husband is in sanctuary. “ICE is trying to split us apart and we are asking the director, Rebecca Adducci, for help. So far, she is still trying to split us apart. It is not right. This should not happen to any family.”

The Rev. Jill Zundel, pastor at the church that granted the family sanctuary, also spoke out about the necessity of keeping the family together. Rev. Zundel also made note of an upcoming march to fight for the rights of all endangered immigrant families.

“When our church saw that families were being separated by deportation, we decided to stand up and be leaders for unity!” said Rev. Zundel. “We have fought hard for the Rranxburgaj family, but so far ICE is still trying to tear them apart. We know that can’t happen, for Flora’s sake, so we will keep fighting.  We also know that they aren’t the only ones being torn apart by ICE, so we will keep fighting until we can keep all families together! On Monday, May 14, we will begin a march across Michigan to Lansing, a march to keep families together. Please join us!”

Rep. Hoadley, Sen. O’Brien honored as 2018 Care Champions

State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and State Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Kalamazoo) were announced as Care Champion awardees by Caring Across Generations, a national care giving advocacy campaign.

Rep. Hoadley was recognized for being the chief sponsor of the Long-Term Care Study Bill (HB 4674) which would do a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan, so that we have the research necessary to make informed decisions around long-term care in a state whose population is aging rapidly. The bill has bipartisan support and over forty co-sponsors, including Rep. Hoadley, who gave testimony on it during a hearing in the Health Policy Committee in the fall of 2017.

Senator O’Brien was recognized due to her support for in-home caregivers and families providing care, such as care for children, elderly parents or disabled family members. In particular, her bill, SB 749, passed in the Senate in 2018 to allow, beginning in tax year 2018, a Michigan income tax credit for dependent care that mirrors the one offered at the federal level.

“More and more families are struggling with how to care for our loved ones while making ends meet, but our policies are lagging far behind the reality of what Americans need,” said Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations. “Luckily, we have care champions like Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien, who are showing us what is possible when principled leadership is coupled with bold policy solutions. We need more elected officials like Rep. Hoadley and  Senator O’Brien to call for making our care infrastructure strong enough for the 21st century.”

“For years, Rep. Hoadley and Senator O-Brien have been legislators we can count on to support the Caring Majority. We’re pleased to be able to honor Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien for their work, and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that all of us who need care and all of us who provide that care get the support we need,” said Ryan Bates, Executive Director of Michigan United, a partner of Caring Across Generations in Michigan.

“I am excited and honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the folks who are doing work to protect the Caring Majority,” says Rep. Hoadley. “The Long-Term Care Study Bill is both the right thing to do for our citizens and taxpayers of Michigan. I hope we can continue to build momentum to sign this bill into law.”

People of Flint demand continued water distribution

State shows it values corporate profits over public safety

Residents, outraged by the announced end of water distribution in Flint and insulted by the Nestle water giveaway days earlier, spoke out Monday to tell how the decision would affect them and present solutions to guarantee everyone can get water they can trust. They reject the idea that every house has safe water because a small sample was under the threshold for lead when thousands of homes still have lead service lines. “And Lead is not the only problem.” Said Michigan United organizer, LaShaya Darisaw. “Legionella bacteria was responsible for a dozen Flint deaths. We need to test for bacteria and other contaminants in all homes before we even consider ending water distribution.”

SAM_1801Tony Paciorek is one Flint resident who depends on water distribution for his daily needs. “It takes 3 bottles of water to make my coffee. 4 if I want oatmeal.” Paciorek said he’d have to pay about $2.67 a gallon for the bottled water after Nestle marks up the price 70,000%. “This is a clear example of how the economy is rigged in favor of the wealthy and their corporations. Those who can least afford it pay the most for water while companies like Nestle practically get it for free.”

Michigan United is calling for a boycott of all Nestle products until everyone in Flint has safe water. Nestle produces Perrier, Poland Springs, Pure Life & Pellegrino bottled waters and other drinks such as Nescafe, Nesquik and Nestea. They also make dog foods like Alpo, baby food like Gerber and adult foods like Hot Pockets and Haagen Dazs.

SAM_1817Monica Galloway, one of several Flint city councilmembers to oppose ending water distribution stood with those affected. “For Governor Rick Snyder to end water distribution in Flint is injustice that clearly demonstrates that inequity and inequality still exist in America.” said Galloway. “This is not about a handout from the State this is about the state righting a wrong.”

Besides continued water distribution and reversing the Nestle deal, Michigan United is calling for a state budget that includes money designated for water testing, Medicaid expansion to cover everyone who has lived or worked in Flint since 2014, and an end to the Emergency Manager Law that led to the water crisis.

Citizenship question on census unconstitutional, ill-advised

Proposed change would drive immigrants into shadows and would weaken our democracy

The Trump administration wants to include a question on the 2020 census that will ask who is a US citizen in your home? What immigrant in their right mind would reveal their citizenship status after watching for two years as ICE tore innocent parents away from their families despite living peacefully in America for decades? Even many citizens living in mixed status families with undocumented parents, siblings and spouses won’t answer this question. Such a question would make reduced immigrant participation in the next census a complete certainty.

Even when slaves were only considered 3/5th of a person, Article I section 2 still instructed that they be counted along with all other persons regardless of citizenship. “This appears to be an attempt to skirt around the Constitution which mandates the ‘enumeration’ of all ‘persons’ as distinct from only ‘citizens’.” said Diego Bonesatti, the Michigan United Legal Services Director.  “This is why a dozen states, including New York and California, are suing to stop the the Department of Commerce from putting this question into Census 2020.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, without a hint of irony, that the move was being made to defend the voting rights act when clearly it would only exacerbate the effects of gerrymandering by further diluting the voting power in communities of color. Any gains Trump and his party may make politically will come at the cost of “flying blind”, making important policy decisions based on faulty and incomplete information for the next 10 years.

“This is clearly yet another way of fabricating a situation to deliberately keep people underwater.” said Michigan United board member Seydi Saar. “The effect will be to make sure marginalized people are underrepresented. As a result, at-risk communities of color will be short changed the important resources they need.”

That is why we at Michigan United believe a democracy functions best when it recognizes all people. Intimidating and erasing immigrants isn’t just immoral, it’s bad policy. The constitution calls for an accurate snapshot of the nation so that all of our decisions might be just. As the Bible reminds us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18)