News

Share This

Voting for democracy and a better life

In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.

Peabody Paraprofessionals Reach Tentative Contract Agreement with School Committee

“An agreement such as this has been a long time coming for paraprofessionals in Peabody,” said Doreen Blaisdell, a Paraprofessional from the South Memorial Elementary School. “Pay for paras has dramatically increased in nearby communities in recent years and I am proud to see Peabody join that trend.”

“Recent achievements such as the passage of the Student Opportunity Act and the Fair Share Amendment have provided our schools with the resources to finally take steps to recognize the critically important work done by paraprofessionals to support our students,” said Eric Blake, President of the Peabody Federation of Teachers. “The PFT appreciates the School Committee’s recognition of the importance of paraprofessionals.”

Berklee Faculty Union Members are Stronger Together

“This contract was one of the strongest bargained in the past 20 years and was the result of an incredible team effort, solidarity of the faculty, and the overwhelming support of the students,” said Will Silvio, President of the Berklee Faculty Union, AFT Local 4412.

Under the new contract, all faculty will receive a 3% raise each year and, additionally, a one-time 2% bonus in the first year. Meanwhile, the wages of the lowest-paid faculty members will increase by up to 19% over the same period due to adjustments to the minimum wage for each faculty rank. This provision is especially important for faculty who came to Berklee as part of the 2016 merger with Boston Conservatory. Additionally, part-time faculty who teach in the Boston Conservatory program will now be paid for office hours and department meetings, like other part-time Berklee faculty.

"I'm thrilled we brought home a strong contract,” said Andrew Shryock, Secretary-Treasurer of the Berklee Faculty Union. “What's just as satisfying was to see so many people come together around a shared vision for Berklee where faculty can do their best work and provide a world-class experience for Berklee students.”

AFT Massachusetts Statement on Passage of Question 1 – the Fair Share Amendment

The Commonwealth has taken a much-needed step in the direction of supporting our educators, students and communities with the passing of Question 1 – the Fair Share Amendment. Now that we’ve passed Question 1, we will have a fairer tax system, and an additional $2 billion in annual funding that will be a great boon to the state, and to future generations in Massachusetts. 
 
“By passing Question 1, we’ve won an enormous victory for Massachusetts students, families, and educators that will reverberate for decades,” says Beth Kontos, President of AFT Massachusetts. “Starting next year, Massachusetts will have a fairer tax system and substantial new revenue to invest in our public schools, colleges, and transportation systems. Years from now, our communities will continue to see the benefits of better schools, safer roads, and a tax system that asks those at the very top to do their part. A huge thank you goes to all the AFT Massachusetts members who devoted their time to door-knocking, phone-banking, and conversations with neighbors to help push us over the finish line and deliver this historic win for Massachusetts.”
 

Brant Duncan: Parents have a lot to gain from Passing Question 1

Public education in our country is in the midst of a crisis. Inadequate funding has led to steadily climbing classroom sizes, teacher shortages, and school buildings that are in disrepair or inadequate. Question 1 on the November ballot will help address these dire issues across the Commonwealth and give our educators and students the much-needed support they deserve. 

The pandemic has tested many of us, and has seen the title of ‘hero’ bestowed on many people, including educators who had to figure out how to keep our kids learning and engaged in unprecedented circumstances. 

Beth Kontos: Question 1 is an Investment in Our Children and Our Future

I am voting “Yes on 1” on November 8th to pass the Fair Share Amendment and support funding for public education, from preK through our public colleges and universities. I believe the benefits of public education, from age 3 through college, should be universal despite zip code or the ability of the family to pay for that education. And I personally know the benefits of attending public college at a reasonable cost. I was able to attain a bachelor's degree without debt 40 years ago because of the investment the state made in my education.  Today, we are not investing in public higher education in the same way, but we should!  

By creating a more level playing field, the Fair Share Amendment would provide much-needed funding to support public education at all levels.  This could help us close opportunity gaps and provide students from all backgrounds - not just wealthy ones - with the opportunity to succeed.

Don’t delay! Don’t miss this life-changing opportunity to get out from under the burden of student debt—start your PSLF application today.

If you have student debt and, like most AFT members, work for a public or nonprofit employer—including public and nonprofit schools, healthcare facilities, institutions of higher education, and other government or 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers—you could have your entire student debt balance forgiven, but you MUST take action before Oct. 31, 2022.

The AFT settled a landmark court case last October that set in motion an official review for all borrowers denied Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Coinciding with this settlement, the U.S. Department of Education announced major improvements to the PSLF program through a temporary waiver—changes to PSLF rules that allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF—based in large part on complaints filed by borrower advocates like the AFT. But the waiver is just that—temporary—and it leaves borrowers in limbo as we wait for new regulations to take effect next July.

Lawrence Federation of Paraprofessionals Reaches Historic Settlement with Transformational Wage Increases

After a contract campaign that brought hundreds of educators, elected officials, and community members together to demand a living wage, the Lawrence Federation of Paraprofessionals (LFP) has reached a tentative agreement on a historic contract settlement. The LFP pushed for months to lift its members out of poverty and win a living wage for all members. LFP members are overwhelmingly Lawrence Residents, LPS parents, and women of color. The LFP fought to ensure that this new contract created more educational stability for students, greater support for families, and better working conditions for staff.
 
“Our union, over 400 members strong, sent a very clear message that when we unite as workers, we can win the wages and working conditions we all deserve,” said Suzanne Suliveras, the president of the Lawrence Federation of Paraprofessionals. “We are excited to build off this momentum to make our school community the best possible. We are now in a position where our members can focus on their jobs educating the students of Lawrence rather than how they will feed their families.” 

Solidarity with Haverhill and Malden Educators

The families of Malden and Haverhill have a right to expect the education and learning needs of their children will be addressed in the public schools. The committed teachers in those communities are fighting for their students by demanding progress at the bargaining table on essential classroom issues.

AFT Massachusetts stands in support of the teachers of Malden and Haverhill receiving fair contracts and calls on school administrators to immediately negotiate contracts that are good for students and fair to teachers.

AFT Massachusetts Applauds Biden Student Debt Relief Plan

“President’s Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will be life-changing for tens of thousands of Massachusetts teachers, counselors, librarians, and other workers who have dedicated their lives to public service, as well as for millions of borrowers across the country who have been failed by a broken higher education funding system.

“Forgiving $10,000 of student debt for all low- and middle-income borrowers, and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients, will greatly reduce the burden of debt that is holding many borrowers back from buying a home, starting a family, or following their chosen career. By reducing costs for thousands of educators, this plan will aid educator retention and help combat the teacher and staff shortages our schools are facing. Through this plan, and through other executive actions such as reform of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the Biden Administration is delivering transformative student debt relief where it is needed most.