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News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - September 2020

Message from Beth Kontos

It’s the end of September.  At this time last year I wrote to you about our back to school events, book fairs, and the culminating work on the Student Opportunity Act.  This year we face a very different beginning to our new school year as we face the Covid-19 pandemic and an uncertain budget season that has already halted our school improvement plans. Level-funding based on last year’s school budget numbers is not the support our students and educators need.  We are joining with our Raise Up Massachusetts partners around the state in legislative meetings demanding a “Just Recovery”.  Rather than cuts to our state budget we need a robust revenue plan to support our public services, like public libraries, the MBTA and regional transit authorities, and public education, both pre K -12 and higher education.  The first of these conversations will occur on October 1st with the North Shore legislators.  Register HERE.

We are entering the sprint to Election Day.  This is certainly the most important election of our lifetimes.  So much is at stake.  With the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the need to flip the senate, and the presidential election; it is not hyperbole to say all three branches of our federal government are in the balance on November 3rd.  Let’s keep in mind that the president appoints the Secretary of Education.  Do we want four more years with Betsy DeVos?  She has done more to underfund and undermine public education across our nation than any other Secretary of Education.  Are you wondering what you can do?  First of all, VOTE and bring your friends and family along with you!
Massachusetts offers online voter registration. You can register by mail to vote in Massachusetts by printing a voter registration form, filling it out, and mailing it to your local election office. You can also register to vote in person if you prefer.  
Remember that November 3rd is election day.  The deadline to register to vote is Saturday, October 24, 2020 (online, in person, or if by mail it must be posted marked by this date).  The early voting period runs from Saturday, October 17, 2020 to Friday October 30, 2020.  
Do you want to work the polls?  Or get alerts about the election?  Go here for more information.
Learn more about who is running up and down the ballot for November go here
Download the “AFT Votes” app from the app store on your cell phone (it’s free).  Sign up to make calls to AFT members around the country to encourage them to vote on November 3rd or to request an absentee ballot.

‘Invest in Our Recovery’ Campaign to Stop Budget Cuts, Fund Public Services By Taxing Profitable Corporations and Their Wealthy Shareholders

To fight COVID-19, relieve the economic damage it is causing for workers, families, and businesses, and tackle racial inequalities, Massachusetts needs a government response that rises to the needs of our communities, which are greater than ever. Healthcare, transportation, education, housing, safety net programs, and other critical areas of the state budget need more support now, not less. The need is especially great in our public schools and colleges.
To ensure that Massachusetts has the resources to invest in the public services that will power an equitable recovery, AFT Massachusetts is joining the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition and 150+ community organizations, faith groups, labor unions, public health associations, and social services providers in the ‘Invest in Our Recovery’ campaign. The campaign aims to avoid destructive budget cuts that would only add to the harm the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and instead move forward with investments that improve public health, grow our economy and tackle racial inequities.
The campaign calls on legislators to implement three policies to raise significant new revenue from profitable corporations and their shareholders: increasing the tax rate on corporate profits, conforming to federal law for the taxation of domestic profits that are shifted overseas (known as GILTI, or ‘Global Intangible Low Taxed Income’), and increasing the tax rate that investors pay on unearned income.
“So many families are suffering during this pandemic, and working people have all sacrificed so much to get our communities through these hard times. Many small businesses are hurting as well. But at the same time, many of the largest corporations in Massachusetts and the country are seeing record profits,” said President Kontos. “Rather than reinvesting their profits in protecting workers or buying new equipment, these corporations have distributed virtually billions of dollars in profits to their wealthy shareholders. It’s time for them to do their part to support our economic recovery.”
For more information on the ‘Invest in Our Recovery’ campaign and details about the three policy proposals, visit Individuals from the North Shore can join a virtual community briefing with regional state legislators on October 1 at 5:00 p.m. by registering here.

Don’t Wait, Make Your Plan to Vote in This Fall’s Election

“This election is about electing real leaders at all levels of government who will get COVID-19 under control so we can get back to school safely. It’s about investing in our recovery, not cutting public services that our students, families, and communities depend on,” said AFT Massachusetts Beth Kontos. “It’s about ensuring fair, unbiased federal courts that will uphold women’s rights and protect our access to affordable healthcare. This election is truly important, and with new election laws in place during the pandemic, it’s important that all AFT Massachusetts members make a plan – soon – for how you will cast your ballot.”
Read about the AFT Massachusetts Executive Board endorsement of US Senator Ed Markey for reelection, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President/Vice President, Question 2 on the statewide ballot (Ranked Choice Voting) as well as many candidates for US Congress, State Senate, and State Representative. READ MORE.

Virtual Member Benefits Workshops for AFT Members

AFT Massachusetts will host a series of virtual benefits workshops to showcase the products and services available to AFT members through our member benefits program. During the one-hour workshop, presenters will explain benefits you are eligible for, with topics including AFT Plus Benefits; Auto and Home Insurance; Supplemental Insurance; Home Financing; Long Term Care; and Retirement Planning.  Whether you’re looking to purchase insurance, buy or refinance a home, plan for retirement, or just see what benefits are available to you as an AFT member, you can find experienced and dedicated professionals who will work with you every step of the way to fulfill your goals.
What:   Member Benefits Workshop for AFT members
Where: Virtual Workshops via Zoom
When:  October – 20, 22, 24; November – 17, 19, 21 (Tuesdays at 4pm, Thursdays at 6 pm and Saturdays at 10 am)

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