Monthly Communicator - October 2019

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A Message from AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos

Fall colors have nearly passed and my garden is cleaned up and ready for the coming winter.   I nearly missed the beauty of this season for being busy with all the  “back-to-school” events, new member meet and greets, and the whirl of activity at the State House.  We have had great success with our Fund Our Future actions resulting in the unanimous passage of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) in both the Senate and the House.  The SOA still needs to go to the conference committee to sort out the language on just a few differences then it’s off to the Governor’s desk.  We will keep you up to date on those results.  Of course, we will be asking you to call the Governor when it’s time to encourage him to sign!  Click here to contact your legislators and speak up in Support of the SOA!

We kicked off this year’s regional benefits seminars with great success in Lawrence.  It was attended by Paraprofessionals, Clerks, and Teachers.  The next one will be held on November 20th at Stonewood Tavern in Peabody everyone is welcome.  Presidents of all locals are invited to meet for a “Empower Hour” from 4:30 to 5:30 pm preceding the member benefit seminar at 6 pm.  
 
I was fortunate to attend AFT’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Conference in Montgomery Alabama in October.  I toured the Legacy Museum, attended workshops, walked in the footsteps of giants as we marched on to the Alabama capitol steps, and heard from a child (now an adult) who marched with Dr. King from Selma to those same steps in 1965.  All somber reminders of the work ahead as we consider the racial disparity of incarceration, the unequal and unjust funding disparities between school districts, and the socioeconomic affects of income inequality all across our nation.
 
And finally, our members have stood in solidarity with our AFT brothers and sisters of the Chicago Teachers as they strike for the schools their students deserve.  They want counselors, a nurse, and a librarian in every school.  They are demanding smaller class sizes and up to date curriculum.  And they want a raise.  Sound familiar? Closer to home, AFT MA members have joined the Dedham Educators as they strike for RESPECT in the classroom.  Two years without a contract and striking to force the district back to the table.  It has been twenty-five years since the last teacher strike in Massachusetts happened in Salem in 1994.

House Vote Moves Historic School Funding Bill Closer to Final Passage

 
“The vote by the House gets us even closer to the finish line,” said AFT MA President Beth Kontos. “This achievement is a result of the sweat, blood and tears given by thousands of AFT members and public school advocates across the state over the last two years. Now we must stay active and vigilant as the two branches move to resolve their differences. We are hopeful this will happen swiftly, so that final legislation can be sent to the governor as soon as possible.”
 
The House version of SOA mirrors that passed in the Senate when it comes to the key funding provisions. The bill would make an extraordinary investment in K-12 public education, delivering an additional $1.5 billion in annual state aid to local public schools, with the bulk of those resources going to the neediest schools and students.  Click here to read more.

Lynn Educators Working Together for a Successful Contract Negotiation

“The Lynn Teachers Union’s contract negotiation shows what we can achieve when educators identify the outstanding needs that exist in our schools and work together with students, parents, and community members to fix them,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “From higher pay for new employees that will help the Lynn schools attract great new educators, to an extra 40 minutes each week for elementary school teachers to communicate with parents or prepare lesson plans, this contract is good for Lynn students and fair to their educators. Congratulations to all the members of the Lynn Teachers Union on their new contract!  Click here to read more.

Paras Bring Books and Joy to Kindergartners

 

It truly was an OMG moment—first, when the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals won a major grant from AFT partner First Book, and next, when thousands of kindergartners all over the city got to join a read-aloud party at their school on a Friday morning and take home a free book.Cathy Mastronardi, president of the Springfield paras’ union, describes what it was like to bring the value of our union into a collaboration with the school district in securing the First Book grant—together, winning for their community the essential resources it would be impossible to obtain alone.
 
“It’s been fun,” she says. “You know, we went into it as kind of a lark. We’d never written a grant before. We got to work with people we’ve never worked with before. Honestly, we were so surprised when we won. The whole thing has been fun.”  Click here to read more.

AFT Massachusetts Stands in Strong Solidarity with Chicago Teachers Union Educators

 
After more than 10 months of frustrating bargaining, over 25,000 Chicago Teachers Union teachers, clinicians, teaching assistants and support staff are officially on strike as of, Thursday, October 17. The goal: to win — in writing, in an enforceable contract — learning and working conditions that respect educators and provide Chicago’s students with the schools they deserve.
 
“We’re deeply inspired by your commitment to improving your students’ lives and strengthening your schools’ communities,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “You’ve shown in the past that when we stand together and fight for what’s right, we win, and we have no doubt you’ll prove it again. Educators, parents, students, and community allies in Massachusetts are standing with you until you win a contract that’s good for students and fair to educators – whatever it takes.”  Click here to learn more.

Member Benefits Spotlight

AFT PLUS is the name of the member benefit programs available to AFT members and their families. Many of the programs are provided through Union Privilege, the benefit arm of the AFL-CIO; others are unique to AFT and are coordinated directly through AFT PLUS. Explore the site and learn more about the savings and services available to you as a union member.  Click here to learn more about AFT PLUS Member Benefits.

Coming Events - click here to visit our event's page for additional information

  • Student Debt Clinic - November 6, 2019 - Offices of the Lynn Teachers Union
  • Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members on the North Shore - November 20, 2019
  • Union Member Candidates School - December 7, 2019
  • Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members on the 495 Belt North - December 17, 2019
  • AFT Massachusetts Convention 2020 – May 1 and 2, 2020
  • AFT Convention 2020 – July 27 to 30, 2020