A Message from President Beth Kontos
February is the shortest month yet it feels like the longest as we continue to fight for safe working conditions, an equitable rollout of vaccines, and a true living wage for all our members. See the story here about the actions our New Bedford Paraprofessionals have taken as they advocate for a fair salary increase. We will see more like this across the state in months to come.
A job action was averted at the Greater Lawrence Technical School, AFT MA Local 1707 this weekend! A tentative agreement that would have ensured safety standards for all was rejected by the school committee Friday night. But the members stood strong together and demanded that they get back to the table – or else. See the statement of their President Chris Burke here. Thanks to all the AFT MA staff who worked all weekend to support this local but especially Field Rep Eric Blanchet who refused to leave the table until there was an agreement. By 9pm Sunday both sides had voted to accept the new agreement. Should a press release link go here?
Vaccines are currently available to all people age 65+ AND people any age with two co-morbidities (see the list of eligible conditions here). It has been difficult to obtain an appointment as the state is receiving only 130,000 vaccines a week with more than a million people in these two categories. To find an appointment go to https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/. All school nurses, OT, PT, Speech and Language Pathologists, and ABA staff are also currently eligible for the vaccine and may make appointments immediately.
AFT MA is advocating for all school-based employees to get the vaccine ASAP with the “Last Mile” vaccine program we’ve developed with our fellow teachers and fire fighters unions. Read all about the program here. Take action to pressure Governor Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders to release the vaccines to our program so that we can bring the vaccines directly to our schools.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has extended the validity period of the emergency Educators license through June 30, 2022 (originally valid until June 30, 2021) due to continued challenges as a result of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus. Full details can be found here.
After months of our advocacy for in-school surveillance testing, the state’s pooled testing program has launched in many districts across the state. For more details on the program go here.
New CDC guidelines have been released and affirms the safety guidelines we have been advocating for. 1) Social distancing, 2) mask wearing, 3) hand hygiene, 4) improved ventilation, 5) vaccine prioritization for school based staff, and 6) society-wide efforts to reduce community transmission.
Register here for the Share My Lesson virtual conference being held March 23rd to 25th. If you cannot attend at the scheduled time they will send you a link for “On Demand” access at your convenience.
Tell the Baker administration to approve a plan to vaccinate Massachusetts school staff and librarians
- Approve the Last Mile Vaccine Delivery Program so it can begin right away.
- Make higher education employees and library workers eligible for vaccination in Phase 2 with preK-12 public school staff, integrating them into the Last Mile program and the program on their own campuses.
AFT Massachusetts Responds to DESE Reopening Push
New Federal and State Money on Its Way to Massachusetts School Districts
2021 Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel Conference
- There is No Union Without You! From Union to Community: Why Your Voice Matters.
- After the Vaccine: Going Forward in a Healthy Work Environment. Presented by MassCosh.
Amesbury awarded BCBS Wellness in the Workplace grant
“My involvement with wellness programming started when the rising cost of insurance premiums made me think outside the box,” said Cindy Yetman. “I believe our partnership with the City of Amesbury and MIIA Blue Cross Blue Shield to offer health and wellness programming has allowed our health insurance premium rates to maintain some stability.”
“We have been able to offer better benefits for our city employees in our most recent renewals.” she said. “In the past we actually were able to decrease dental premium costs and add more robust coverage. I believe the benefits for our city and our employees has made this work worthwhile.” READ MORE.
A Call for Nominations
Workshops for AFT Members
AFT Massachusetts will host a series of virtual benefits workshops in February 2020 to showcase the products and services available to AFT members through our member benefits program.
- What: Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members
- Where: Virtual Workshops via Zoom
- When: February 23, 25, 27 and May 18, 20 and 22 (Tuesdays at 4pm, Thursdays at 6 pm and Saturdays at 10 am).