AFT Massachusetts members gathered remotely on Saturday to celebrate the union’s past successes and organize for our future during for the union’s 2020 annual convention, with the theme “Let’s Keep Winning: Advancing Educational and Workplace Justice Through Union Activism.”
During the telephone town hall convention, Beth Kontos was reelected as President of AFT Massachusetts, and Brant Duncan was reelected as Secretary-Treasurer. These AFT Massachusetts leaders spoke about the union’s victories over the past year, from the Fund Our Future campaign that won a historic $1.5 billion school funding commitment at the state level, to growing political engagement in last year’s local elections and successful contract fights across the state. They also addressed the many challenges that educators, students, and parents face as we respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Click here to review our 2020 Convention Report
“Since our convention last year, our union and our movement produced some of the greatest political and educational victories of our lifetimes. These victories were exemplified by the passage last November of the historic school funding bill, the Student Opportunity Act,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Our principles of solidarity and mutual care produced those wins. This year, whether we’re fighting for the necessary federal and state funding to support our schools, colleges, libraries, and students during the COVID-19 crisis, advocating for our most vulnerable students who are most at risk of falling behind during school closures, or working to strengthen economic security and provide debt relief for working people, that same spirit will get us through this crisis as we work to make our world a better place.”
“As we meet remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we face immense challenges brought on by the virus, from managing the abrupt shift to remote learning while ensuring our students have food to eat, to advocating for our budget priorities amid plummeting state revenues. This pandemic has changed our work immensely, and it’s clear that the effects — on our students and our entire communities — will be felt long after our schools reopen,” said AFT Massachusetts Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan. “We won the past year’s victories while continuing to strengthen our locals and AFT Massachusetts through collective organizing and engagement, and we’re prepared to face the challenging times that lie ahead.”
The AFT Massachusetts Executive Board is responsible for carrying out the programs and policies approved by the convention delegates. The 29-member board consists of two officers — the president, secretary-treasurer and twenty-seven vice presidents. Congratulations to our newly elected vice presidents!
Delegates to the convention also passed four resolutions:
A Resolution in Support of a Climate Justice Agenda commits the union to promoting smart growth, green jobs, and real partnerships between the labor and environmental communities in order to work toward environmental and economic justice.
A Resolution in Support of High-Quality and Affordable Public Higher Education commits the union to fight for passage of the Cherish Act to fund public colleges and universities.
A Resolution in Support of the Equitable and Effective Implementation of the Student Opportunity Act commits the union to monitor the implementation of the Student Opportunity Act at all levels — from the State House and DESE to districts and schools — to ensure that the law is enacted equitably and effectively in keeping with its spirit and intent.
A Resolution in Support of the BTU’s “Young Workers Movement” commits the union to recruiting, retaining, training, and creating pipelines to leadership for younger members and new leaders.
During the convention, President Beth Kontos and Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan announced the eight winners of the union’s 2020 Distinguished Service Awards, which are presented annually to AFT Massachusetts members who have demonstrated an outstanding level of service and dedication to their local union. See the full list of Distinguished Service Award winners here.
They also announced the recipients of the union’s 2020 Scholarship Awards. 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. See the full list of Scholarship Award winners here.