Category Archives: Gender equity

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future

Candidates challenged with issues by the people they affect

Thousands of people from across Michigan packed the sanctuary of Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Saturday to hear from four of the candidates vying to lead the state in 2018. Democrats Bill Cobbs, Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer were joined by Republican Patrick Colbeck on stage to explain their positions on criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights at the event co-sponsored by more than 70 community organizations.

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future was moderated by Rev. Dee Dee Coleman, President of the Baptist Pastors Council of Detroit and Vicinity, and Detroit Free Press journalist Niraj Warikoo. But as important as the answers they gave were the people who posed the questions.

WENDY KYLES of Detroit asked “What will you do as Governor to reduce air pollution in overburdened communities, like mine, and throughout our state?” Kyles, who lives in the 48217 zip code, suffers from the worst air quality in the state due to the nearby Marathon oil refinery. Her mother died from emphysema even though never smoked a cigarette in her life.

Arthur Howard is a returning citizen who is working hard to be a productive member of the community. He pointed out that Michigan has seen a reduction in spending on post-release services in the past few years while states like California and Colorado are instead are investing in programs like prison diversion and community enrichment to help the formerly incarcerated get on the right path. “These programs pay for themselves because keeping someone out of prison saves a lot of money.” He wanted to know which candidates would consider a similar model in Michigan.

Jason Hackney is a teacher at one of Michigan’s 300 charter schools, 75% of which are “for-profit”. Michigan has also dropped to the bottom ten of states for education in the nation. An estimated $1 billion of Michigan tax money goes into these charters with no transparency, and for results that are no better than public schools. “A people’s governor should not treat Michigan students as commodities that can make the most profit for a management company and the authorizer.” Hackney said. He wanted to know How each of the candidates would address the problem of fully funding our schools, holding authorizers and management companies accountable, and where do you stand on the privatization of our education system?

Michigan United launches Universal Family Care at Downriver women’s rights event

Michigan Women join thousands across the country to push new economic agenda for all women

Michigan United began to roll out it’s Universal Family Care campaign at the Riverview Public Library Monday night.  US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI12) and State Representatives Darrin Camilleri, (D-23 Brownstown) and Cara Clemente (D-14 Lincoln Park) came out to show their support for the plan to help families care for their children, seniors, the disabled, and caregivers.

Terri Voepel-Lewis“A few years ago, mom was diagnosed with cancer and had to move in with me. So that I could keep working, we had to use mom’s savings to pay for in home care.” said Terri Voepel-Lewis, a downriver resident who provided end of life care for her mother. ”That quickly ran low, as the cost of in home care for 8 hrs a day cost thousands over her short illness. Mom died before we had to consider other sources of care. No one should have to worry about how to care for their parents at the end of life”.

Universal Family Care would be very helpful families like the Lewis’. The campaign seeks to provide Universal Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities, and would have allowed Terri’s mom to receive the resources from the state to afford the care her mom needed during her illness.

Additional components of Universal Family Care include: Universal Childcare, Support for stay-at-home Parents, Workforce Standards, (those include reimbursement rates to workers set high enough to provide a living wage), and Paid Family Leave. The program covers all types of care, to support families and people of all abilities to work and live well at every stage of life.

Universal Family Care is about being there for loved ones. Care needs to be centered on families that are allowed the ability to make good care choices. Without a program that helps provide clear information about affordable choices, Michigan families cannot get the care they need and want.

The Riverview event was part of the “We Won’t Wait’s” week of action that has spawned similar events across the country. Another event will be held Friday, July 7th at the Oloman Cafe at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck from 6 PM – 8 PM. Lending their voices to speak up for Michigan families and to join Michigan United as they Launch Universal Family Care in Hamtramck will be the Director of Community Engagement for Council Member At-Large for Janeé Ayers, Justin Johnson and State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-6  Detroit).

Michigan United announces launch of Universal Family Care campaign at Capitol Day

Rep. Jon Hoadley presents Long Term Care Study bill to lay groundwork to support families

With new chapters springing up around the state, Michigan United and the Michigan People’s Campaign welcomed record numbers at their annual Capitol Day Event Tuesday in Lansing. The grassroots organizations scheduled dozens of meetings with state representatives and senators to discuss immigration, the environment and family care.

At a rally held at Central United Methodist Church, they announced plans to work with Caring Across Generations and other coalition partners, holding listening sessions over the summer to build out policy details this fall that will ensure the care of all Michigan family members and to help those who care for them. Benchmarks include:

  • Universal childcare up to age 4
  • Long term in home care for seniors
  • Protections for home care workers
  • A stipend for stay at home family caregivers
  • Paid family leave for workers who need time off to care for loved ones.

Many families are in the “sandwich generation:” providing care for young children at the same time they’re providing care for their parents. Sandwich generation families deal with two unaffordable systems, where the people who require care have significant and rapidly changing needs.

Michelle George, an advanced practice registered nurse is one such person. She has a 97 year old aunt with two broken hips. Although she has good health insurance, she won’t be eligible for a new wheelchair to help her get to much needed appointments. “Many families are stretched thin, have to cut back on work, or quit a job to care for aging family members.” said George. “We need better solutions, and the time is now for us to research and fight for them.

Rep. Jon Hoadley also announced that he would introduce his Long Term Care Study bill later that afternoon as the first step in this campaign.

“We’re Here to Stay!”

Detroit’s immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ and Communities of Color honor Dr. King with a message of defiance and unity

Hundreds of people from across Southeast Michigan gathered at UAW Local 600 Saturday afternoon to honor Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. in a show of unity across lines of color, gender, ethnicity, religion and immigration status. Michigan United joined the United Auto Workers and community based groups in a mass call to action to defend the rights of immigrants, refugees, communities of color and the members of the LGBTQ community. In addition to the King holiday, groups cited the well documented rise in hate crimes in Michigan since the presidential election as inspiration for the event.

“We have no doubt that Reverend King would be pushing us to stand with people who are under attack because of their immigration status, the color of their skin or who they love,” said Michigan United member, Reverend Samuel Johnson of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. “Mobilizations like this are crucial to show that the majority of people will not tolerate hate crimes and attacks. The fight to keep immigrant families together is connected to the fight to keep all families safe.”

The Congress of Communities, Chadsey Condon Community Association, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights worked with members of the LGBTQ community to host the event. The intersection of struggles and resistance was at the heart of the gathering.

“Some victories such as marriage equality or the Deferred action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which protects immigrants brought here as children are recent,” said Seydi Sarr, General Secretary of the Senegalese Association. “Some, such as the 1960s civil rights legislation are decades old. We stand to defend them all. We fight to keep immigrant families together here in the US, for refugee families fleeing violence to be safe here. We must defend human and civil rights won for the LGBTQ community and people of color. We can win if we see that all these struggles are connected.”

“No event, not even a presidential election will stop us from standing up and fighting for human and civil rights,” said Sergio Martinez, Michigan United board member. “As Gay man who has benefited from DACA and advances in LGBTQ rights, I refuse to go backward just as Dr. King and those who fought with him resisted the backlash against civil rights laws. Those of us fighting for justice are the majority. Making that clear with gatherings like this will push us toward victory.”

Michigan must act now or leave federal funding on the table again

State risks over $20 Million for child care assistance if state match isn’t met

UPDATE: Click here to tell Lansing  to act NOW!

Michigan policy makers have only until the end of this month to draw down $20.5 million in federal funds or it will be returned to federal coffers and distributed to other states, leaving Michigan children and families without affordable child care assistance. The untapped dollars were the topic of a meeting of more than 40 representatives from statewide and national organizations last Friday in Lansing, where they discussed how to create better child care policies in Michigan that would increase access to quality, affordable care.

This is not the first year that Michigan has failed to meet its state funding obligations. A new report by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), released at the meeting, shows that in 2014 Michigan did not fully meet its state match requirement resulting in a return of $9.3 million in federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds. Moreover, while Michigan continues to underfund the program, a large number of children and families that could benefit from the program don’t get any help.

According to CLASP’s report, fewer than one in five children eligible for child care assistance under Michigan’s income eligibility requirements get any help. Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native children are even less likely to receive child care assistance.

This year, Michigan is again poised to return millions that could support child care for working families. Legislators must appropriate $7.5 million in state funds in a supplemental budget bill before the end of September in order to draw down all available federal funds.

Read the CLASP report

“I am alarmed that Michigan lawmakers are dragging their feet to commit the funds in the state budget that will guarantee that Michigan families can benefit from the $20.5 million in matching federal funds,” says Amber York, a mother raising kids in Detroit and an organizer with Michigan United. “Why won’t Michigan lawmakers show their commitment to improving outcomes for Michigan’s neediest children?”

Michigan has drastically cut funding to the child care assistance program over the last ten years. This is coupled with a very low income eligibility threshold, and many administrative obstacles that make it difficult for families to access assistance. Based on numbers reported by the National Women’s Law Center, Michigan has the most stringent income eligibility requirements for child care assistance in the nation relative to the poverty level, and second strictest in relation to state median income. A family of three must make $23,800 or less annually to qualify for child care assistance.

“Taking steps to invest in child care and help families get assistance would give families more economic stability, and give children a better start. This is an important time to be having this conversation among community leaders, parents, providers, and others who care about the wellbeing of children and families,” says CLASP Senior Policy Analyst, Christine Johnson-Staub. “Michigan should be doing all it can to maximize the federal dollars coming to the state to help low-income children receive quality child care services.”

“This is a crisis for thousands of Michigan families who qualify for child care assistance but can’t get it.  The state’s decision to cut eligibility and leave much-needed federal dollars on the table is unconscionable,” says Jessica Juarez, Deputy Director of Policy for People’s Action, a national network of grassroots organizations. “Parents, providers and advocates are standing up and saying enough is enough.”

Click here to tell Lansing  to act NOW!

Michigan United Goes Door to Door Seeking Racial, Economic Justice

Voters engaged on crucial issues months before historic election

Dozens of Michigan United members in Detroit and Kalamazoo spent Saturday morning directly engaging voters on two of the most crucial issues of the upcoming presidential election: racial and economic justice. It  was part of a “National Doorstep Convention” for racial and economic justice. The outreach effort was prompted by extremist rhetoric from the presidential campaign and violence against people of color and other marginalized communities.

“Bigotry is real. Mexicans and Muslims have been vilified on the campaign trail and people of color have been poisoned and imprisoned for profit. We can’t stand by and watch this happen,” said Shaina Smith. “We have a moral obligation to engage with people to confront these issues, to work toward a society where we are all safe and welcome. That is what this canvass is about.”


Canvassers had no scripts just a general outline. This allowed them to have more open conversations about what is really on the minds of voters.

“We want to have honest conversations about what it means to live in a country with people of all colors, ethnicities, nationalities and religions. We are going door to door to put those issues out in the open” said LaTifah VanHorn.  “Communities of color face more environmental hazards like the expansion the US Ecology hazardous waste site on Detroit’s Eastside. Black and brown people are disproportionately locked up and then even after serving time, returning citizens are prevented from getting work. The reality of struggles on the ground and the divisive campaign rhetoric means we all need to step up.”

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


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#

Gender Equity, Women’s Leadership, and the Caring Economy

This past year, 25 Michigan United women came together to create our Women’s Leadership and Gender Equity team. Our current campaign is to increase access to affordable, quality childcare for families in Michigan. Investment by the state of Michigan in high-quality child care through the Child Development and Care program has the potential to boost our state economy and provide critical early learning opportunities for young children during their first years of life.

Access to safe, high-quality child care reduces the need for parents to miss work and it has also been shown to decrease employee turnover. On the other hand, less investment in child care makes it harder for working parents to find reliable care, which makes it harder for them to find stable work and provide for their families.

Unfortunately, funding for subsidized child care has drastically decreased in Michigan. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, total child care spending fell from $479 million in 2005 to just $136 million in 2014—a reduction of over 70%.

We are calling on our state legislature to implement the following policy changes:

  • An increase in the threshold to access the Child Development and Care program, from 120% to 185% of the poverty line, which is the same threshold as Medicaid eligibility. We think the threshold should be even higher, but this would be a significant move in the right direction.
  • Increased funding in the state budget so that with the threshold increase, more families also have access to the subsidies.
  • Remove the cap on hours for reimbursable child care. While the cap has recently increased to 90 hours for every two weeks, we know that many low-income families have work schedules that exceed 45 hours per week. There is also the need to factor in the time it takes for parents to travel from work to their child care facilities. We believe that Michigan should eliminate a cap on reimbursable hours. The current system already screens for whether the parents are at work or in approved training or educational programs during those hours. We should move toward being able to fully support working families who qualify for this assistance.

The Gender Equity team has also started to explore building a campaign around long-term, elder care. We believe families should have access to care choices that allow their family members to age with dignity in their homes, and have the support of quality, affordable home caregivers. We are exploring what Michigan could be doing to ensure there are private/public programs that will support our elders and their families, and enable quality care.

We also support the effort to secure a dignified wage for homecare and childcare workers. We believe the Elder Boom is an opportunity to create quality jobs with robust training programs, and investment in a public/private system by the state of Michigan will allow for families to have affordable, quality choices.