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News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - October 2021

A Message from President Kontos

Across the country we have seen workers rise in collective action for improved working conditions and wages.  In Massachusetts, the members of AFT MA are making demands on school committees to implement the ESSER funding immediately. Our school systems need to use this funding to attract and retain talented employees to teach and support our students.  We certainly acknowledge the need to make improvements to our buildings and ventilation systems for everyone’s safety and comfort.  Our buildings have been ignored for far too long.  But our immediate needs for a quality education means we must hire additional well-trained adults to provide services to our students.  We need more paraprofessionals, more teachers, more family engagement specialists, food service workers, custodians, translators, clerks, bus drivers, nurses, and librarians.  
In Revere, our paraprofessionals are demanding increased work hours, a livable wage, and benefits as fair compensation for the care and expertise they bring to the classroom each day.  Members of the Chelsea Teachers Union are standing together for competitive wages so they can retain staff.  In Lawrence, the teachers and the paraprofessionals are demanding that ESSER funds are used immediately to hire more staff who can offer instruction but also for socio-emotional healing to the students who have experienced great losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.  I name only a few of our communities here however, we know that this need exists in all our communities in Massachusetts and around the country.  While the pandemic has exposed the disinvestment in our public schools to the world, our members who are in schools day after day have known this ugly truth for a very long time.  Our Union will continue to fight for the learning conditions our students need as well as the working conditions our members deserve.

AFT Welcomes News of FDA Approval of Pfizer Vaccine for Children

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after Pfizer-BioNTech received approval by the Food and Drug Administration for their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. This is the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for children in the U.S. Next, vaccine experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet in early November to discuss the FDA authorization; if the CDC agrees with it, the 28 million children in that age group could become eligible for shots in the first week of November:
“This is huge news in our ongoing effort to keep our kids safe from COVID-19. For nearly two years, parents have been living in fear, worried that their child could get sick at school, day care, or in daily life, but now they finally have FDA-approved protection to add to the long list of vaccines we use to keep our children protected from transmissible diseases."  READ MORE.

#AFTVoices Member Spotlight Series

#AFTVoices is proud to present, Rosalinda Midence! ☀️

This series aims to uplift the voices, members, staff and educators that make up AFT Massachusetts. This week we're highlighting Rosalinda, Student Support Coordinator at Boston Day and Evening Academy with the Boston Teachers Union! Being the daughter of a teenage, immigrant mother from central America, Rosalinda knows the power of a strong network. "I was influenced by an empowering teacher and JT, my bus driver. JT would ask my mom if I had breakfast and it showed that it takes a village to care for young people. This is what propelled me to get into education. I knew I was cared for by an entire network."
Stay tuned as we continue to display more of our conversations with other AFT members, showing how we collectively strive to build an industry where we all have the #FreedomToThrive!  Click here if you would like to be part of our campaign!

Take the Fair Share Amendment Vote Pledge

The top 1% make their first $1 million without additional tax, after that we're asking for 4 cents on their millionth and one dollar and so on. This would raise a substantial amount of NEW revenue annually to be re-invested into our public education system and transportation infrastructure. Right now, the Massachusetts economy is working great for those at the top. But it’s time to invest in our public infrastructure, schools, and communities, so that working families across MA can receive the support and benefits they deserve. EVERYONE must pay their fair share in taxes. We must pass the Fair Share Amendment and invest in the Commonwealth.
Do you plan to vote YES to pass the Fair Share Amendment on the ballot in 2022? Sign our pledge to become an official Fair Share Amendment Voter!

2022 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.

To be considered for a scholarship the student must be a dependent of an AFT Massachusetts member and a high school senior. The student must also attend a college or other post-secondary school in the fall of the following academic year. Scholarship Applications are due by December 17, 2021. Click here and register today!

Discount for AFT Members

As AFT members, the New England Revolution would like to thank you for all that you do by offering a discount on Revs tickets! ! Click here and buy a ticket today to the last regular season home game on November 7th!

Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members

AFT Massachusetts will host a virtual benefits workshop on December 2, 2021 at 6 pm to showcase the products and services available to AFT members through our members benefits program. Whether you’re looking to purchase insurance, buy or refinance a home, or plan for retirement, you can find experienced and dedicated professionals who will work with you every step of the way to fulfill your goals!
Click here to register and an automated email with the details of the Zoom meeting will be sent as well as a link to a folder of resources.

Retirement Planning Workshop

The financial professionals of Teacher Retirement Solutions (TRS) have partnered with AFT Massachusetts and specialize in providing independent financial guidance, strategies and solutions to educators, school employees, librarians and their families throughout New England.  Join TRS’ John Gregorio, a Certified Financial Planner, on January 26, 2022 via Zoom for a comprehensive workshop for prospective retirees. The Massachusetts' public employee retirement formula, Social Security and living in retirement will be among the topics discussed.  An automated email with the details of the Zoom meeting will be sent to members that complete the form linked here.

February 15th Student Debt Clinic

Over 45 million people in the United States are struggling to make their monthly student loan payments, and millions more see economic and personal opportunities pass as they prioritize paying down their debt. Does this sound like you or someone you know?

Many of these people may qualify for free federal programs that can help reduce their monthly payments and eventually lead to student loan forgiveness, but these lifeline programs are significantly under-enrolled. Thanks to new rules just put in place by the Department of Education, many folks who thought loan forgiveness was out of reach are now finding that it is finally within grasp. In an effort to help our members get access to these programs and understand these new rules, AFT Massachusetts and the American Federation of Teachers are proud to host a Student Debt Clinic which will provide information on how to enroll in Income-Driven Repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
To attend our Student Debt Clinic, you must pre-register.  Click here to register for our February 15, 2022 Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members!

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