Back to School and Labor Day Message from AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos

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Dear AFT Massachusetts member,

Welcome back to a new school year! As you return to your schools and welcome new students this fall, I want to share several updates on ongoing campaigns, activities, and opportunities for AFT Massachusetts members.

Fund Our Future

Our top priority continues to be fighting for increased state funding for our local schools, along with our partners in the statewide Fund Our Future campaign. At the end of July, legislators finalized a budget for the current fiscal year that includes a significant down payment towards the equitable preK-12 school funding that students across Massachusetts so desperately need. Many school districts received multi-million increases in state aid.

Your local school district may already be spending this new money on new hires or other local priorities, or there may be opportunities this fall to have a say in how the money is spent. Talk to your local President if you’re interested in learning more.

But the work’s not done: legislators must now build on this progress by passing a comprehensive education funding bill that commits the state to school funding equity over the long term. Specifically, our students need legislators to fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), including setting the “low-income increment” at the maximum rate recommended by the FBRC, as the Promise Act does: 100% of the base rate in the poorest communities. We also need legislators to fix the broken charter reimbursement system and provide relief to districts like Boston that lose significant state funding to charter schools.

AFT Massachusetts will continue to organize and advocate for equitable education funding reform this fall. Keep contacting your local legislators and asking them to support the provisions of the Promise Act, and stay tuned for more opportunities to support the Fund Our Future campaign.

Labor Day

On Monday, September 2, Labor Day, we celebrate the past accomplishments of the labor movement, and recommit ourselves to organizing to win even more in the future. On Monday morning, I’ll be at the annual Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast with labor leaders and elected officials from across the state. Afterwards, I’ll join labor leaders and activists for the Boston Labor Day March in support of immigrant workers who built our country. Wherever you are on Labor Day, I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on the labor movement and how you can be a part of a new renewal of organizing today.

MassDems Convention

The Massachusetts Democratic Party is holding its 2019 Action Agenda Convention in Springfield on Saturday, September 14. If you are a delegate, please let Brian LaPierre, Director of Organization know (617-974-1243, blapierre@aftma.net) so you can be connected to other members at the convention.

Leadership Development Opportunities

At AFT Massachusetts, our strength comes from our collective organizing power, which depends on our members and local leaders continually developing their skills as union organizers and leaders.

AFT Massachusetts is offering two important leadership development trainings this fall: our Annual Fall Leadership Conference on September 28, and our Member Organizing Institute on October 26. Both are important opportunities to develop your leadership and organizing skills.  Click here to learn more.

First Book Grant

AFT Massachusetts was fortunate to receive a $25,000 grant from First Book to provide funding directly to new educators in Boston, Chelsea, Lawrence, Lynn, Lowell, and Salem so they can purchase school supplies and books for classrooms and spark their students’ interest in reading and learning.

Through the grant, which is being matched by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), AFT Massachusetts, and local teachers unions in the six communities, approximately 1000 new teachers will be provided with a $50 gift card to the First Book Marketplace to purchase school supplies and books for their classrooms. The First Book Marketplace stocks more than 6,000 high-quality, diverse book titles on a variety of topics that First Book offers for 50-90% off retail costs.  Click here to learn more.

This school year, I’m committed to winning a historic reinvestment of state funding in our public schools, continuing to train and empower organizers in locals all across the state, and building our collective power as educators and union members. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year.

In solidarity,

Beth Kontos
President, AFT Massachusetts