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What unions do

In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times  column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.

AFT Massachusetts Legislative Priorities 2023 2024

Along with the new gubernatorial administration comes a new legislative session, which means the introduction of numerous education- and labor-related bills.
One of the most important is the Thrive Act, which would replace the state’s failed approach to educational assessment and improvement, including the undemocratic state takeover system and the MCAS-based graduation requirement, with policies that will help all students to succeed and thrive. The Thrive Act would establish a modified graduation requirement based on coursework rather than high-stakes standardized testing, and implement a new ‘comprehensive support and improvement’ system designed to empower local communities to give students the tools and resources they need to succeed.

We’re also focused on talking to state leaders about our legislative priorities, which include:
An Act Committing to Higher Education the Resources to Insure a Strong and Healthy Public Higher Education System, An Act to Guarantee Debt-free Public Higher Education, An Act Uplifting Families and Securing the Right to Strike for Certain Public Employees, and two bills to improve educator retirement benefits, including legislation that would allow educators who didn’t properly enroll in the TARP enhanced retirement option to opt in to the program, and legislation that would ensure greater economic security for retired educators by increasing the COLA base and protect retirees from rising healthcare costs.

Reading Opens the World at Silvia Elementary School

Reading is a foundational skill necessary for virtually everything we do. It opens possibilities for all children to succeed—to learn and grow, to explore and imagine, to investigate and verify, and to lead fulfilling lives. That’s why one of the focuses of the multiyear AFT literacy campaign, Reading Opens the World, is giving children and young people free books to read, love, and keep. 

AFT Massachusetts President, Beth Kontos, visited the Silvia Elementary School with Secretary Treasurer Brant Duncan and Fall River Federation of Paraprofessionals’ leaders, Stacey Alves and Kim Luz, as part of this program. “We know that access to books can be a watershed moment for a student, as well as their family, ” said Alves. Luz agreed, adding, “We know kids love to read and we are here to nurture and empower students to keep that passion alive.” 

Notice of Open Position: Field Representative

AFT Massachusetts is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. 

AFT Massachusetts Field Representatives work throughout Massachusetts and duties consist of organizing and servicing locals, preparing, and negotiating contracts, legislative activity, liaison with labor and educational groups, or any other areas of work necessary to advance the interests of AFT Massachusetts as assigned by the president or her designee.. 

UMass Faculty Federation celebrates educators during annual award ceremony

The UMass Faculty Federation, Local 1895, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, celebrated educators who worked tirelessly to help prepare the minds of tomorrow’s leaders. Dr. Hua (Julia) Fang, Professor Meghan Fair and Deidre Healy were all honored in December 2022 during the federation’s annual award celebration. AFT Massachusetts wants to highlight these educators and celebrate their accomplishments as well. UMass Faculty Federation President Grant O’Rielly had high praise for the educators and support staff who were honored at the annual event and said that the entirety of those who fill the classrooms and support the students at UMass Dartmouth deserve recognition as well.

“We are immeasurably proud and grateful to these committed and hardworking individuals who have gone above and beyond to ensure that the students who sit in our classrooms emerge with the best education possible,” he said. “We are also grateful to those who secure the resources and support that allows these educators to accomplish this mission. The importance of unions is our ability to work together and ensure that we as educators and support staff are taken care of so that we can take care of our students.” 

AFT Massachusetts Joins New Higher Ed for All Campaign

With the passage of the Fair Share Amendment, Massachusetts has an opportunity to build a public higher education system that lives up to our values and prepares Massachusetts students to be active, engaged participants in their communities, the workforce, and our society,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Students today are struggling with the cost of college and a lack of adequate support services, while adjunct educators struggle with low pay and limited benefits. Our public college campuses have insufficient funding to address crumbling buildings, rising student needs, and staffing shortages. We’re pleased to support the Higher Ed for All campaign to reverse the budget cuts that have occurred over the past several decades, and begin rebuilding a truly public state college and university system.”

“As we move away from the worst of the COVID pandemic, the impacts of over a year away from the classroom are becoming more and more evident,” said Grant O’Rielly, President of the UMass Faculty Federation. “The absence of social contacts with their friends and peers, as well as missing frequent and meaningful interactions with teachers in their classes, have left students ill-prepared as they have returned to in-person learning. This is particularly true in colleges and universities where the need for support services in mental health counseling as well as quality academic tutoring (not just "homework help sessions") has increased significantly.”

Solidarity with the members of the Woburn Teachers Association!

Solidarity with the members of the Woburn Teachers Association!

The union educators of the Woburn Teachers Association are organizing to secure:
● A living wage for education support professionals;
● Smaller class sizes to support the educational needs of all students;
● Physical education classes twice a week for elementary students, which is comparable to surrounding school districts;
● Fair and professional compensation for all workdays; and
● Dignity and respect in the workplace.

Solidarity with Melrose Educators

The families of Melrose have a right to expect the education and learning needs of their children will be addressed in the public schools. The committed educators of the Melrose Education Association are fighting for their students by demanding progress at the bargaining table on essential classroom issues.
The union educators of the Melrose Education Association are acting to secure: Enough planning time to prepare the best lessons possible for their students; Fair and competitive compensation to retain current educators and attract the best new educators; and
Improved working and learning conditions.

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

AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos: Get Ready for a Big Push on Major Education Bill

An education bill filed on January 20, 2023, has the potential to transform the educational landscape for generations to come, bettering the lives of students and harnessing the knowledge and assets of local communities to improve schools, according to AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and other education leaders. 

The bill, An Act Empowering Students and Schools To Thrive (or the Thrive Act, for short), would equip local communities with the tools and resources that students and schools need to succeed, and dramatically reduce the harm caused by the high-stakes, punitive use of standardized tests, such as state takeovers and denying students high school diplomas. 

“This bill is about lifting up students, lifting up schools, and lifting up communities,” says Kontos. “And it’s about freeing students and educators from the shackles of punitive, high-stakes standardized testing.”

Say Cheese With Santa: AFT Educator gives back during holiday season

Our educators go above and beyond in many ways to ensure the needs of the students in the Commonwealth are met. Sometimes this means staying after with students, sometimes it means dipping into personal funds to make sure they have supplies, and sometimes it means donning a red suit and spreading some Christmas cheer. 

In 2018, Michael Curley received a phone call from one of his wife’s closest friends. This friend loves Christmas and hosts an annual holiday gathering following Thanksgiving dubbed “Thanksmas,” and this year she was asking if Michael would be interested in donning the role of Old Saint Nick. He said he couldn’t say no to a close friend, and that the chance to play Santa seemed fun.