News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - April 2021

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AFT Unions Launch Public Messaging Campaign Underscoring Support for Safe In-Person Learning

 
“As we have consistently stated, educators want students back in schools,” said Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang. “There are clear steps that can be taken to make a full return to classroom buildings as safe as possible. We’re asking that the state simply take those steps in order to bring students back in the safest and most instructionally sound manner possible.”
 
“Our students are our number one priority, always,” echoed Beth Kontos, President of the American Federation of Teachers of Massachusetts. “Teacher unions are made up of teachers — many of whom are parents ourselves. We are advocating for the state and for all districts to embrace and invest in key safety measures like improving school building air quality, providing adequate PPE to educators and students, and taking other common sense steps to preserve the public health and to save lives.”  Click here to read more and to view our video ad.

Ask Legislators: Fully Fund Schools and use the Pre-COVID 2019 Enrollment Numbers  

 
We need to make sure our schools and students receive the full funding they need to get back on track after decades of underfunding and the COVID pandemic. While the House’s proposed K-12 education budget is better than the Governor’s proposal, it uses lower enrollment numbers from the height of the pandemic that will shortchange our students this fall, and could result in a $90 million budget shortfall.
 
Our students' future is at risk. We are asking the Legislature to fully fund our schools by creating a budget proposal based on 2019 pre-COVID enrollment numbers, to ensure that every student counts and receives adequate funding when they return to the classroom this fall.  Click here and take action today!

A Voice for Black Workers Promoting Racial, Social and Economic Justice

 
As a union, we know there is no economic justice without racial justice. For decades, Black labor union members have organized to win social, political and economic justice for all working Americans through the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI).
 
“Asa Philip Randolph was a legendary figure in the labor movement and the civil rights movement, and we’re carrying on his work today by bringing the entire labor movement together in the fight for racial justice at work, in our schools, and throughout our communities,” says APRI Boston Chapter President  Johnny McInnis. “We invite members from local unions to join us in raising the voices of Black workers and advancing the cause of social and economic justice for working families throughout Massachusetts and across the nation.”  Click here to read more about the APRI Greater Boston Chapter.

Celebrating Our Librarians

“As librarians, you know better than anyone just how vital you are to all of our communities and schools. You provide support where a classroom doesn’t reach and you service students in unique ways that the rest of us just can’t. COVID shined a spotlight on what we have always known: librarians are essential workers. On National Library Appreciation Day, we want to remind you just how much we admire and respect the vital services you provide. AFT has been advocating for your prioritization in the state’s vaccine distribution plan, alongside teachers and educational staff. We will continue to advocate for your safe return back to schools and continue to champion common sense collaboration among all librarians, teachers and school employees to serve our students the best we can.”
- Beth Kontos, President of AFT Massachusetts
 
“The past year has been incredibly challenging for library staff. As the pandemic took hold in March of 2020, we quickly pivoted from providing in-person support to all remote services. Exclusively virtual programming & story-times, technology assistance, database support, and reference services became the norm. Librarians worked out of kitchens, living rooms, attics, and cars to provide these services to our patrons. In late spring and early summer of 2020, we pivoted again as we started to re-enter our buildings and began to provide safe in-person services – curbside materials pick-up, computer appointments, limited browsing – while still maintaining the robust array of remote services our patrons had come to depend on. We were – and are – essential to our patrons and the well-being of our communities where we provide educational, professional, and personal enrichment that our patrons depend on to thrive.”
- Pat Kelly president of the Massachusetts Library Staff Association

Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members

As a union, we are fighting to make college affordable and student debt manageable. However, 44 million people in the United States are saddled with student loan debt. All AFT members are welcome to attend a May 12th Student Debt Clinic at 4:30 pm!
 
Click here and select “MASSACHUSETTS: AFT Massachusetts *WEBINAR* 4:30 pm 05/12/2021" to register for the workshop.
 
AFT Student Debt Clinics provide:
  • Information on how to enroll in income-driven student loan repayment programs;
  • Help in enrolling in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program;
  • Opportunities to interact with members who haven’t been engaged with their union;
  • A curriculum that demonstrates the power of our union in improving the lives of AFT members and the people in our communities;
Additionally, AFT members have access to www.forgivemystudentdebt.org, a resource for those who need to learn the landscape of free and underused federal programs that help many student loan borrowers lower their monthly payments and, in some cases, even have their debt forgiven.

Workshops for AFT Members

AFT Massachusetts will host a series of virtual benefits workshops in May 2021 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.
 
  • What:   Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members
  • Where: Virtual Workshops via Zoom
  • When:  May 18, 20 and 22 (Tuesdays at 4pm, Thursdays at 6 pm and Saturdays at 10 am).
Click here to register! A link to the Zoom workshop will be emailed to registered participants a few days before the scheduled date.  Please contact Brant Duncan at bduncan@aftma.net for additional information