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News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - December 2020

A Message from Beth Kontos

Happy Holidays to all.  I know the festivities will be different for all of us this year.  I will be sharing an eggnog only with the people I live with.  We must do what we can to stop the spread of this deadly virus and save our big celebrations for the future.  Hang in there as vaccinations are on their way.

December has been filled with actions.  In Lawrence, educators safely passed out books, school supplies, and warm clothing to students as they dropped by to pick up groceries at the monthly food distribution.  AFT MA joined the MTA in a Community Conversation on Facebook regarding Covid in our schools.  You can watch it here.  We are planning more joint Facebook events in January to address the socio-emotional needs of our students, the need for improved ventilation and surveillance, Covid-19 testing in our schools, and the call for a Marshall Plan to rebuild our schools better than ever.

In the coming year, we will be calling on you to contact legislators to suspend the MCAS graduation requirement for seniors, to suspend MCAS for this year for all students, and to demand a three year moratorium on MCAS!  Of course, our fight for full funding of the Student Opportunity Act will not stop until we have equitable funding that supports the needs of all our students – as the law requires.  And on January 12th we will be joining Unions from around the country as we call on president elect to be bold in his actions as he takes the presidency later in the month.  Locally, our attention will be focused on our Governor, Legislators, School Committees, and Superintendents to support Educators, Librarians, and Healthcare Workers across the state as we stand united to work through the pandemic.

MassCOSH Stands with Educators and Public Health Advocates in the Fight for Healthy Schools

When it comes to schools and coronavirus, the Baker administration and many school district officials are spreading misinformation and trying to pit families and teachers against each other. With COVID-19 ravaging our communities, we need to listen to the science and the demands of educators, not ignore them.  To combat misinformation, MassCOSH created a video, Four Myths about Schools and COVID-19.

Learn more about the Massachusetts Coalition of Occupational Health and Safety or MassCOSH here.

President Beth Kontos Responds to the Vile and Hurtful Denigration of Teachers’ Unions

Here is the truth that MASS and MASC need to hear and accept. The biggest obstacle to in-person learning is a deadly virus that is raging uncontrollably through our state, including in our schools. Beyond that, we are challenged by the absence of federal and state leaders who will provide the support and resources we need to get the virus under control and allow schools to reopen safely. We need to stop the spread generally through sound science-based public health measures, backed up by relief for the people and businesses most severely impacted. And schools specifically need in-school COVID surveillance testing, improved ventilation, more PPE, and more staff to enable smaller classes, among other mitigation measures.
Stunningly, instead of citing these obvious challenges and proposing real solutions, MASS and MASC have chosen to point the finger at educators and their unions.  How sad, demoralizing, and destructive. Read More.

Take Action to Protect Boston Public Librarians' Ordering Ability

Recently, Boston Public Library management announced that local branch libraries and librarians in distinct departments at the Central Branch would no longer have the ability to select the books for their branches and collections. Currently, over one hundred fully qualified librarians who work directly with families, researchers, local schools, and community groups, choose the books for their locations. Under the new plan, a team of 4 people downtown would select all of the books for the entire library system.
The Boston Public Library Professional Staff Association, MLSA Local 4928, AFT, has been negotiating with Boston Public Library (BPL) management over these changes to how books are ordered. Library management refuses to acknowledge that branches and central departments have distinct collections or that local branch librarians have ever had any autonomy in ordering for those collections.   Click here and send an email today in support of our Boston librarians!

Wentworth Faculty Take Vote of No Confidence in Wentworth Administration

“As COVID-19 rages out of control, Wentworth faculty and librarians are working tirelessly to continue to teach and support our students, delivering content in ways many of us haven’t done before,” said Greg Sirokman, Professor and the President of the Wentworth Faculty Federation. “But many members of our campus community are at increased risk of severe illness if they are exposed to COVID-19, and many are fulfilling their professional duties while also managing childcare responsibilities or caring for an aging parent.
“Along with the Women’s Caucus, the Faculty Federation has been negotiating so that faculty members’ and librarians’ jobs would not be at risk if they declined to put their health and lives at risk in the middle of a pandemic. We particularly emphasized the necessity of accommodations for members in CDC high-risk categories for COVID-19. We also requested scheduling accommodations for faculty and librarians who are primary childcare deliverers,” he said. “Unfortunately, the administration has refused to even negotiate our requests. After months of trying to work with President Thompson and his administration, we have no confidence in their ability to lead our academic community in the midst of this pandemic.” READ MORE.

2021 Scholarship Program

Every year AFT Massachusetts awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to eligible high school seniors who are dependents of AFT Massachusetts members. The awards, named in honor of former AFT leaders Kathy Kelley, Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman, and for long-time AFT Massachusetts field representative Jay Porter, are awarded on the basis of a labor history exam administered by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for young people to understand the role of labor unions in our country’s history,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “AFT Massachusetts is proud to offer these college scholarships to students who are part of our union family. Read more here and note the deadline to register for the labor exam is January 3, 2021.

A Call for Nominations

Help the AFT Massachusetts celebrate the service of an educator, librarian, nurse, or school related-personnel whose leadership has made our union stronger. Nominations are now being accepted for our 2021 Distinguished Service Awards, which recognize substantial contributions made to the development of the union at the state and local levels, from membership building and leadership training to the advancement of political and professional issues important to the union.
Who will you nominate to be recognized at the AFT Massachusetts annual convention in May 2021?  Click here to read all about the 2020 award winners, and click here to review the 2021 Distinguished Service Award flyer and nominating procedure.  Local presidents are asked to submit nominations (cover letter and one page narrative) by February 1, 2021.

Events for AFT Members - click here to learn more and to register for the events!

  • Building a Bridge to a Better Tomorrow Day of Action - Tuesday, January 12, 2021
  • Member Benefits Workshop - Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
  • Member Benefits Workshop - Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
  • Member Benefits Workshop - Saturday, January 23, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:00am
  • Book talk with the authors of the A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door and President Beth Kontos - Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
  • Grassroots Campaign Virtual Training Event - Saturday, January 30, 2021 - 10:00am to 4:00pm
  • Member Benefits Workshop - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
  • Member Benefits Workshop - Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
  • Member Benefits Workshop - Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 10:00am to 11:00am
  • AFT Massachusetts 2021 Annual Virtual Convention - Saturday, May 1, 2021

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