Hundreds of teachers, paraprofessionals, librarians, professors, nurses, and more gathered for the 52nd Annual Convention of AFT Massachusetts on Saturday, May 7th. For the first time since 2018, delegates gathered together in person, with the protection of mandatory COVID-19 protocols. Click here to view and share the 2022 convention report!
As we ever-so-slowly emerge from the crisis phase of the pandemic and into a changed world, the AFT delegates reaffirmed their continued commitment to delivering the schools, healthcare, and libraries our communities deserve, the services and staffing our students need, and the workplace protections AFT members rely on. The convention delegates adopted the following resolutions.
- Resolution: To Support the Fair Share Massachusetts Campaign
- Resolution: To Divest in Fossil Fuels and to Reinvest in Workers and Communities
- Resolution: To suppor the Massachusetts is Not for Sale Campaign
“I am inspired by the dedication and perseverance of our members,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos upon her reelection by acclamation, “You have spent the past two-plus years working through difficult, ever-changing conditions, and never stopped doing your best to serve students and communities. I am honored to represent you and I look forward to our work together over the coming year.”
Kontos highlighted the creation of the new AFT organizing department and the success it has had working across the state to win better contracts and living wage campaigns, allying with community partners on ballot questions and anti-receivership campaigns, running trainings to support local union activists, and doing whatever is needed to activate our membership.
Headed by Jeremy Shenk, one of the key capacities this department brings to AFT Massachusetts is the ability to staff and help run Contract Action Teams. They helped run campaigns and win important victories for teachers in Lynn, Holliston, Chelsea, and Lowell; for paraprofessionals in New Bedford, and for faculty and staff at UMass Dartmouth.
Also reelected by acclamation was Brant Duncan, who told the delegates, “As we gather in person for the first time in two years, our union is in a strong financial position and our locals are recommitted to membership engagement and collective action. I’m happy to report that we have weathered the storm of the pandemic and are emerging stronger than before. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together next.”
The presentation of college scholarships to students and annual awards to members are always a highlight of the annual gathering.
- AFT Massachusetts Announces Recipients of 2022 Scholarship Awards.
- AFT Massachusetts Announces Recipients of 2022 Distinguished Service Awards.
Congratulations are in order for two members elected to serve on the AFT Massachusetts executive board, Vice President Colleen LiPorto of the Lynn Teachers Union and Vice President Kim Wilson of the UMass Faculty Federation. Our sincere thanks are extended to retiring executive board members Bruce Sparfven and Gale Thomas for their years of dedication and service to our union. Click here to view our Executive Board.
It wasn’t all business at the convention however. Katie Cohen and The Levellers returned to entertain the crowd with their spirted renditions of classic songs of worker solidarity. Boston Arts Academy Spirituals Ensemble directed by BTU member Michael Bradley (pictured) and Berklee Faculty Unions's David Scott also performed.
And while the important business of tallying the votes for 31 candidates for the executive board took place, the delegates heard from Juana Bordas, President of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on leadership, diversity, and organizational change. A former faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), she taught in the Leadership Development Program – the most highly utilized executive program in the world.
Her book, Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership in a Multicultural Age, identifies nine core leadership principles common to Latino, African American, and American Indian cultures. Juana incorporates these principles into a multicultural leadership model that is uniquely suited to our changing demographics.
Her book, and her remarks to the delegates, include personal reflections, profiles of community leaders, and historical background. Juana believes that our music, literature, language, architecture, food, fashion, and more have all benefitted from America’s growing multiculturalism. Our leadership approaches, however, have remained highly Eurocentric.
As the day-long, in-person convention came to a close, the universal hope among the delegates was that we could all be together again. See you next year.