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News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - June 2023

A Message from President Beth Kontos

The last few weeks have vividly illustrated the work that lies ahead of us as a country.
Last week or so, an ideological US Supreme Court released decisions banning affirmative action in college admissions, limiting the ability of the government to enforce anti-discrimination laws, and striking down the Biden administration's student debt relief program.
AFT Massachusetts is working with our state and national partners to respond to these unjust decisions, and help our students overcome the barriers that are being placed in their path. And while things once again feel grim on the national level, here in Massachusetts we are making real progress at building the schools that our students and our communities deserve.
AFT locals in Amesbury, Assabet, Lowell, UMass Dartmouth and Wentworth all reached strong contract agreements that include major pay increases and improved benefits. These victories were only possible due to months of local organizing, and I want to congratulate those locals on their successful bargaining!
After a successful union vote this spring, nearly 400 UMass Dartmouth graduate student workers are now members of the UMassD Maintainers, AFT Local 6350. A stunning 98% of participating student workers cast ballots in favor of the union, which will represent teaching and research assistants, doctoral and art fellows, clinical and studio assistants, and more whose work helps UMass Dartmouth function every day. Welcome to our new members of the AFT family!
This month (June), I was honored to host AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFT's Career and Technical Education Committee for coordinated tours of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and Salem High School, to highlight the incredible work being done by CTE educators in these schools. I also spoke on the Public Sector Task Force panel at the Massachusetts’s AFL-CIO’s Richard L. Trumka Educational Conference.
Finally, I’ve continually inspired by the leadership and activism of our members across the state. This week, AFT members advocated at the State House and testified before the Joint Committee on Public Service in support of bills relating to cost-of-living adjustments for retirees and creditable service enhancements for public employees. And we held our annual Summer Organizing Institute, providing two days of skill building for dozens of local union leaders, building reps, and member activists!
Read on for more updates on AFT Massachusetts’ work this month:


AFT Amesbury Reaches Historic Settlement For All Bargaining Units

“Our union, over 300 members strong, sent a very clear message that when we unite as workers, we can win the wages and working conditions we all deserve,” said Cindy Yetman, President of AFT Amesbury. “This accomplishment would not have been possible without more than a year of organizing by teachers, students, parents, and community members. The School Committee and Mayor’s hard work with us on these negotiations brought to fruition the best contract our union has settled in decades. We achieved this together.”  
“Fair schedules and paid parental leave are exactly the kinds of common good solutions that students, parents, and educators have been advocating for in the Amesbury Public Schools,” said Ian Opolski, a teacher at Amesbury High School. “The milestone achievements in this contract will help to make our school more successful for both students and teachers. If we continue to work together in our advocacy, we can help to ensure that Amesbury Public Schools will become the best schools that they can possibly be.” READ MORE.

AFT President Visits Salem and Lynn High Schools to Highlight Career and Technical Education Success Stories

On June 9, AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos hosted the AFT's Career and Technical Education Committee and coordinated tours of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and Salem High School.
“We were delighted to host President Weingarten and educational leaders from across the county on the North Shore, and highlight the incredible work being done by CTE educators in Lynn and Salem,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “These schools are national leaders in high-quality career and technical education that engages students and prepares them for fulfilling and well-paid careers. It was an honor to showcase them as AFT advocates for stronger public schools in Massachusetts and across the nation.”
Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and Salem High School offer students a wide variety of CTE programs, including automotive technology, building and property maintenance, carpentry, culinary arts, programming and web design, electrical technology, medical assistance, and early education and care. READ MORE.

UMass Dartmouth Grad Student Employees Vote Overwhelmingly to Form Union

“This major victory shows that UMassD grad workers mean business! Graduate school is difficult enough. We deserve better than poverty wages. We deserve a safe place to sleep, and healthy food to eat. We deserve fair wages that allow us to focus on our work, our studies, and our research. Now that we’ve won our union, we’ll begin working to win a contract that provides livable wages and stipends, strong benefits, and better working conditions including protection from exploitation. This will improve the lives of all our grad employees, and it will give more people the opportunity to attend graduate school without having to figure out how to live on less than minimum wage,” said Lucy McGinnis, co-founder and graduate student.
“We work alongside graduate student employees at UMass Dartmouth every day, and we see how hard they work to teach students and perform research,” said Nick Gula, President of the UMassD Maintainers. “Now, it’s time for that work to be recognized and rewarded with livable wages, strong benefits, and fair working conditions.” READ MORE.


AFT Massachusetts Responds to Supreme Court's Affirmative Action Decision

AFT Massachusetts Responds to Supreme Court's Student Loan Decision


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

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