Skip to main content

News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - May 2023

A Message from Beth Kontos

We began the month of May on a high note after a successful convention on April 29. It was wonderful to see so many AFT Massachusetts members in person, celebrate our work over the past year, and passed three resolutions that will help guide our work in the coming year: on the Thrive Act, public higher education, and retiree justice.
After we celebrated many contract victories at our convention, I’m thrilled to share that our locals have won two more strong contracts this month: at Essex Tech and in New Bedford. I want to recognize the strong local organizing campaigns that led to these victories and congratulate those locals on their successful bargaining. Your hard work has paid off!
Last week, I joined AFT members, our partners at the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA), the MTA, and parent, student, and community allies from across the Commonwealth at the State House for a Thrive Act Advocacy Day. I was inspired by the testimony of students, educators, and parents about the need to end state takeover of public schools and the use of the MCAS as a graduation requirement and replace these failed systems with measures that actually support students in reaching their full potential. We’re building momentum for the Thrive Act one legislator at a time.
Also, this month, I walked with members in memory of Colleen Ritzer, and to help raise funds for the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship. I joined students and educators at the Josiah Quincy School to read “Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country.” And I was honored to receive a “Clean Water Champion” award from Clean Water Action, along with other honorees who are committed to a healthy and just Massachusetts.
Read on for more updates on AFT Massachusetts’ work this month.

2023 Convention Recap - Moving Forward Together

This year’s annual AFT Massachusetts convention felt like a celebration putting the long, painful COVID-19 pandemic behind us. We didn’t meet virtually, or have to wear masks. Instead, we kicked off the convention weekend with our awards dinner at a new location, the incredible Edward M Kennedy Institute at Columbia Point in Dorchester.
Saturday’s main event was again held at the IBEW 103 hall in Dorchester, with over 150 registered delegates in attendance. This year’s theme was “Moving Forward Together,” as we have several important campaigns ahead of us: fully implementing the Student Opportunity Act; ending the failed state takeover/receivership system; fully funding all of our public schools; winning living wages for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; delivering affordable, high-quality public higher ed for all; and providing fair and affordable public retiree benefits. READ MORE.

Essex Tech Teachers Secure New Contract

“The milestone achievements in this contract will help to make our school both more sustainable and more successful for students and teachers,” said Debora O’Reilly, Union President and Biotechnology teacher. “This accomplishment would not have been possible without more than a year of organizing by teachers, students, parents, and community members. We achieved this together.”
“As a vocational school, we teach all of our students the value of hands-on experience in our various fields,” said Cassia Gilroy, Union Vice-President and Cosmetology Teacher. “In addition to addressing concerns around workload and compensation, this contract will make great strides in recognizing the value brought to the school by our CTE teachers’ real-world experience.” READ MORE.

New Collective Bargaining Agreement in New Bedford

After months of complex negotiations, the New Bedford Federation of Paraprofessionals has reached an agreement with the New Bedford Public Schools on a contract that will deliver significant pay increases and benefits for our members, who have spent years doing essential work for poverty wages.
I'm especially proud that New Bedford Paraprofessionals will see pay increases of 14-28% over three years, bringing us much closer to the living wage we deserve. This historic contract also includes numerous new benefits, including funeral leave, recognition of the Juneteenth holiday, and increased pay for Paraprofessionals who serve as substitute teachers or who work in the district's most challenging programs. Finally, the contract also includes annual retention bonuses and longevity payments that we hope will help retain more paraprofessionals and help alleviate the staffing shortages that our schools currently face. READ MORE.

Holliston Educators Vote "No Confidence" in Superintendent

“Holliston educators care deeply about the future of our school district. Our school community deserves a leader who is able to prioritize developing relationships and can effectively collaborate with all members of our school community,” said Holliston Federation of Teachers President Jaime Cutone. “The membership of the Holliston Federation of Teachers is united in our view that we have no confidence in the leadership ability of Dr. Susan Kustka. It is time that the School Committee hear our concerns and take action to address the issues brought forward.”
“Holliston Public Schools raised me. Our teachers, our support staff, and our administrators worked as one to serve the students,” said a Robert Adams Middle School educator who wishes to remain anonymous. “Never did I ever imagine feeling the tension and sadness our Superintendent fosters; and that’s exactly what our students are being exposed to now.” READ MORE.

#AFT Voices Member Spotlight Series

#AFTVoices aims to uplift the voices, members and staff that make up AFT Massachusetts. READ MORE.

Do you know an AFT Massachusetts member who goes above and beyond for students, community, family and other members? We want to know about them!! Nominate them HERE.

Massachusetts Retirees United

HAPPY RETIREMENT!!!!! Wait. What? You are not ready to retire? You just began your teaching career, or you just finished your tenth year, or twentieth year, or thirtieth year? So why start to worry about retirement?
Working together is what the Massachusetts Retirees United does best. The MRU is currently working to increase the benefits for elderly retirees who retired before 2004. In the wake of staggering inflation, retired educators are facing rising costs of basic necessities such as food, rent, gas and healthcare. Everything we can pass and advocate for, we will. Members of the MRU depend on us to fight for them. READ MORE.



Attention AFT Massachusetts members! We have great news for you - B&M Insurance is now offering an exclusive 5% discount on home insurance to all AFT-Massachusetts members! The discount also applies to condos and renter’s insurance. This is in addition to the long-time auto insurance discount for AFT members exclusively offered through B&M since 1994.

Whether you need car insurance, home insurance, or looking to save even more by combining your Auto and Home Insurance, B&M is the place to come and take advantage of your exclusive insurance discount benefit. To take advantage of this discount, simply email Rob McCormack, Jr at or call him at (781) 245-0007 and he will work with you to get you started.  As Insurance Rates continue to rise, don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to save money on your insurance needs!


Retirement Planning Workshop for AFT Members!

AFT Massachusetts is hosting a retirement planning workshop on July 13, 2023 at 10 am online via Zoom and all members are welcome!
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 July 13, 2023 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. Please register by completing the form linked below.
What: Retirement Planning Workshop for AFT Members
Who: Members of AFT Massachusetts
Where: Online via Zoom
When: July 13, 2023 from 10 am to 12 noon

Share This