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AFT Massachusetts Supporting ‘Invest in Our Recovery’ Campaign to Stop Budget Cuts, Fund Public Services By Taxing Profitable Corporations and Their Wealthy Shareholders

“PreK-12 schools need more state funding for ventilation upgrades, cleaning supplies, and additional staff to provide high-quality remote learning and student outreach. Students across the state need more support to handle the trauma and learning loss caused by school closures, not less,” says AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Our public colleges and universities, long underfunded, must be protected from destructive cuts and layoffs as they deal with the loss of room and board revenue while preparing to educate the thousands of potential students who are looking to pursue a degree or certificate after losing their jobs in recent months.”
 
To ensure that Massachusetts has the resources to invest in the public services that will power an equitable recovery, AFT Massachusetts is joining the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition and 150+ community organizations, faith groups, labor unions, public health associations, and social services providers in the ‘Invest in Our Recovery’ campaign. The campaign aims to avoid destructive budget cuts that would only add to the harm the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and instead move forward with investments that improve public health, grow our economy and tackle racial inequities.

Don’t Wait, Make Your Plan to Vote in This Fall’s Election

The right to vote underpins every other right we have. This year, we face four interlocking crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, the reckoning with systemic racism, and the consequences of climate change. And with the death of the iconic trailblazer Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the future of the Supreme Court and its adherence to justice and the rule of law is now front and center as well.

“This election is about electing real leaders at all levels of government who will get COVID-19 under control so we can get back to school safely. It’s about investing in our recovery, not cutting public services that our students, families, and communities depend on,” said AFT Massachusetts Beth Kontos. “It’s about ensuring fair, unbiased federal courts that will uphold women’s rights and protect our access to affordable healthcare. This election is truly important, and with new election laws in place during the pandemic, it’s important that all AFT Massachusetts members make a plan – soon – for how you will cast your ballot.”

 

‘Back to school’ like never before

In her September New York Times column, AFT President Randi Weingarten says that going back to school has never looked like it does now. Weingarten explains that because of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus, which has been chaotic, contradictory and inept, and the lack of federal guidance and funding, we’re seeing a patchwork of school reopening plans across the country.

Re-elect Senator Ed Markey

“Senator Ed Markey has been a supporter of public education for decades and has consistently fought for adequate funding - not because we asked him to, but because he knows that public education is the pathway to better communities,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “He grew up in a household that valued education and the rights of workers. His record in support of labor and the rights of workers to organize is second to none.”
 
“I am incredibly grateful for the support of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts,” said Senator Markey. “Our school employees and our educators are heroes. Their work is instrumental to ensuring that our children are prepared for the future. They deserve to have wages, health care, and other benefits that reflect just how vital their role is. While their usual tools of tablets and pencils have been replaced by tablets with pixels in the coronavirus pandemic, these educators’ skills and commitment remain integral to the health, well-being, and success of Massachusetts’s students.  My father was a union leader, and I learned just how critical unions are to families, to our economy, and to our democracy. I will always fight for AFT Massachusetts, and I am proud that they will fight for me.”

Virtual Member Benefits Workshops for AFT Members

AFT Massachusetts will host a series of virtual benefits workshops to showcase the products and services available to AFT members through our member benefits program.
 
During the one-hour workshop, presenters will explain benefits you are eligible for, with topics including AFT Plus Benefits; Auto and Home Insurance; Supplemental Insurance; Home Financing; Long Term Care; and Retirement Planning.  Whether you’re looking to purchase insurance, buy or refinance a home, plan for retirement, or just see what benefits are available to you as an AFT member, you can find experienced and dedicated professionals who will work with you every step of the way to fulfill your goals.

AFT Massachusetts President Calls on DESE to Test, Trace and Track COVID-19 Outbreaks in Schools

It was disclosed that DESE has no formal process to track or report coronavirus outbreaks in our schools. Massachusetts will not be able to safely return to in-person learning without effective disease testing, tracing, and tracking in our schools.

AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos sent a letter to urge DESE to take steps to ensure that Massachusetts is able to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks when we return to the classroom.

 

In Virtual Town Hall with AFT, BTU, & MTA, Senator Elizabeth Warren

“We’re concerned about the health and safety of our students and our educators, and that’s paramount in our minds. We believe it’s imperative to assess the health of our buildings before we return to the classroom; the ventilation systems must be evaluated and improved. We need the water in our bathrooms to be at 100 degrees at all times; I’m not sure that’s happened at any school I’ve worked at,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Our families need assurance that these health and safety checks have happened and will be maintained throughout the school year. We’re doing this because we care about the children and the families they go home to.”

“The current plan is backwards. We cannot bring all of our students back in person in September on the first day of school as much as we want to,” said Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang. “What we need to do is have a thoughtful approach where we have to get remote learning right…It’s likely there’s going to be another surge, and we cannot just scramble overnight to try to get remote learning right like we did in the spring.”

 

AFT Massachusetts Statement on ICE’s Threat to Deport International Students

Let’s call this decision what it is: a racist president doubling down on his failed strategy of denying the realities of the COVID-19 health crisis, and renewing his campaign of hate against immigrants.
 
ICE’s new guidelines force international students and their colleges into an impossible dilemma. Students will be pushed to choose between risking their health by attending in-person classes or risk being deported to their countries of origin, where they may be unable to continue their education. Others will be forced to disrupt their education by transferring, either to another American college with in-person classes or to a college in another country. Many students will never return, and our country and our communities will miss out on their contributions."
 

AFT Massachusetts Statement on School Reopening Guidance

“Protecting the health and safety of our students and their families is our top priority as educators, and DESE’s guidance needs improvement in several critical areas. From expecting students to provide their own masks, to addressing how students will travel to school safely, to recommending only a 3-foot minimum physical distancing requirement, this guidance doesn’t adequately reckon with the realities, or the added costs, of reopening schools in the communities we represent.

“This guidance may work for a few of the wealthiest suburban districts, where families can afford to purchase their own protective equipment, where students are generally driven to school, and where local taxpayers can provide the additional funding required to open safely. But DESE’s guidance discounts the needs of high-poverty districts in our Gateway Cities and Boston, which have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and were already deeply underfunded before this crisis began."

 

Summer Leadership Institute 2020

Join us for our Summer Leadership Institute, a series of virtual workshops for local leaders and members to refine their leadership skills as well as to promote participation and initiative in our union!  We will still be socially distancing for much of the summer, but with this institute we aim to come together across the state for conversation and learning. 

We have a range of different classes, including a training on the new Connect 2.0, information about the para to teacher pipeline and increasing power in your local through building representatives. We also have a series on the role of elected leadership in the union presented by our colleagues at AFT national.