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News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - July 2023

A Message from Beth Kontos

Presidents Beth Kontos and Ann Berman joined several AFT members and hundreds community members at the “World Needs You Here Mental Health Awareness” Walk

AFT Massachusetts members at the AFT's 2023 TEACH Conference

For educators, the summer months are a time when we can reflect on the past year’s work and plan for the future. AFT Massachusetts members were busy this month developing our skills and curricula to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Many AFT Massachusetts attended the AFT’s TEACH (Together Educating America's Children) biennial conference in Washington. D.C. this month, taking part in an unforgettable experience filled with inspiration and ideas to bring back to school for the year ahead. Members heard from AFT President Randi Weingarten and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and attended professional development workshops custom-developed for TEACH by AFT members and other experts to directly focus on tools and strategies to support educators and their efforts to help kids and communities succeed. Our own AFT Massachusetts member Toni Bourgea, president of South Shore Regional Vocational Teachers Federation, participated on a panel sharing her experiences traveling twice to Poland to work with Ukrainian refugee students (pictures of Toni to the right). Members also participated in a lobby day at the White House advocating for school experiences that our students and communities deserve.

At the conference, AFT President Randi Weingarten announced the launch of a new campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” to help address ongoing mental health and achievement crises and stand up against “ruthless and brutal” attacks against public schools. From literacy programs and experiential learning to community schools and mental health care, the transformative strategies the AFT is prioritizing “have and will help young people and strengthen public education,” she said. Read more about this exciting new campaign here.

As part of the new campaign, AFT is offering grants to locals that are offering real solutions for kids and communities. Grants are available to fund member recruitment and engagement, and to highlight work around community school; literacy instruction; experiential learning; safe, welcoming, and joyful schools; and initiatives around adequate and equitable funding students need. Find more information and apply here – the deadline to apply is August 17, 2023.

Here at home, ten AFT Massachusetts members participated in a two-day Climate Action Through Education program at MIT to help develop interdisciplinary, standards-aligned climate change curricula for U.S. high school teachers in History, English/Language Arts, Math, and Science. This curriculum emphasizes climate solutions, goes beyond climate science, and leans on MIT’s vast research and resources around climate change. Each educator earned a $350 stipend from AFTMA for their participation. The free, open-source curriculum, including more than 20 labs, lessons, units, and activities, is expected to launch on Google Drive this fall – stay tuned!

Our professional development efforts don’t stop when the school year begins. Planning is already underway for AFT Massachusetts’ 2023 Leadership Conference, to be held on November 4, 2023 – save the date so you can learn from speakers and attend workshops to build your knowledge as a local union leader and organizer!

This summer, we’ve been supporting our union siblings in the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, who are both on strike against the major Hollywood studios and streamers. We’ve also been supporting the UPS delivery and warehouse logistics workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in their fight for a new contract – and we were excited to see them reach a historic agreement this week. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, as well as the Teamsters’ UPS contract campaign, are part of a larger movement across this country. The labor movement is pushing back against the income inequality that is holding our country back, and fighting for solutions that ensure large, profitable corporations pay their fair share – to their employees, and for the public good.

Action Alerts! Please take a moment to support a few of our legislative proposals. Using our advocacy tools linked below and including a few sentences about your own career and circumstances can go a long way – legislators respond best to personal stories from their constituents!

Student Debt Clinics for AFT Members

Questions about student debt? AFT is hosting virtual student debt clinics on August 3, 9, 15, and 21 at 7 PM ET to help our members navigate their debt. Learn more about PSLF and how you can save with Summer. ➡️ Register:

Retirement Planning Workshop

AFT Massachusetts is hosting a retirement planning workshop on October 18, 2023 at 6 pm 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 October 18, 2023 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 register.   ➡️ Register:

Upcoming Events

  • Student Debt Clinics - August 3, 9, 15, and 21, 2023
  • Retirement Planning Workshop for AFT Members - October 18, 2023
  • Annual AFT Massachusetts Leadership Conference - November 4, 2023
  • Annual AFT Massachusetts Boston Teachers Union Paraprofessionals and School Related Personnel Conference - April 6, 2024
  • Annual AFT Massachusetts Awards Dinner - May 3, 2024
  • Annual AFT Massachusetts Convention - May 4, 2024

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