#AFTVoices: Chelsea Teachers Walk In Together, Demanding Better for Students

It’s no secret that Massachusetts has been hit hard by COVID, but for low-income and communities of color, it’s been particularly damaging. For Chelsea teachers, one of Massachusetts poorest communities, they’ve been ringing the crisis alarm for decades. We sat down and spoke with Kathryn Anderson, President of the Chelsea Teachers’ Union, about historical lack of investment and what a new flush of $40M could mean for students and educators.. 

“Chelsea was hit hard by COVID,” said Anderson. “It was only made worse because our community as a whole has been underserved, underfunded, and underemployed.” Local school districts have become a magnifying glass for the intersection between community, young people, and educational workers. Anderson adds, “it’s not just about all these things coming together, but it tells the story of what districts have been going through for a very long time.” Chelsea has endured drastic budget cuts for decades, leaving educators and students worse for the wear. “The biggest pressure we’ve seen is increasing class sizes and community pressures. Nearly half of our student population have experienced a food and /or housing crisis and over 80% of our community has lost income or had a major health crisis.” 

AFT Massachusetts Member Profile: Gina O’Toole

“Gina has been a leader in our Lynn local for years and she excels at member engagement,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “When the time came for us to hire an organizer at AFT Massachusetts, she was the natural choice.”

“Having Gina as part of our team has been an enormous help to me and the LTU (Lawrence Teachers’ Union)” says Kim Barry, president of the Lawrence Teachers Union. “Our weeklong series of walk-ins to protest the surge of violence at Lawrence High School certainly grabbed the attention of school administrators because Gina helped turn people out.”

#AFTVoices Member Spotlight Series

☀️ #AFTVoices is proud to present, Katrina Donovan! ☀️

This series aims to uplift the voices, members, staff and educators that make up AFT Massachusetts. This week we're highlighting Katrina, Children's Librarian and Winthrop Public Library and Museum! Katrina has fought hard for herself, her library and folks like her. "Mobilizing the moms I knew is how I fought to save our library."

Stay tuned as we continue to display more conversations from AFT MA members! #FreedomToThrive!

AFT Massachusetts 2022 Scholarship Program

Every year AFT Massachusetts awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to eligible high school seniors who are dependents of AFT Massachusetts members. The awards, named in honor of former AFT leaders Kathy Kelley, Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman, and for long-time AFT Massachusetts field representative Jay Porter, are awarded on the basis of a labor history exam administered by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. 
“Now more than ever, it’s important for young people to understand the role of labor unions in our country’s history,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “AFT Massachusetts is proud to offer these college scholarships to students who are part of our union family.”