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Cambridge

Educators and staff at the Community Charter School of Cambridge (CCSC) today announced that they are forming a union with the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts (AFTMA), joining a surge of union organizing at Massachusetts charter schools this year. The union will represent 66 teachers and other school employees at CCSC, which educates around 250 students in grades 6-12.

“I’m excited to welcome the educators and staff at the Community Charter School of Cambridge to our AFT union family! We are thrilled to support their organizing for better working and learning conditions,” said AFT Massachusetts President Jessica Tang. “All educators and school staff deserve a true voice on the job, and all students deserve a healthy school environment that meets their diverse learning needs. CCSC employees are part of a powerful movement of charter school educators who are forming unions with AFT Massachusetts because they understand that when we organize together, we can build the schools and communities our students and their families deserve.”

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Tang Barry May 2024

“We are extremely disappointed with Acting Commissioner Johnston’s decision to allow a political ally of the Mayor to serve as the next Superintendent of Lawrence over three highly qualified candidates who have the skills, experience, and community ties necessary for this critical role. 

“Lawrence deserves a superintendent who is ready to take our children and schools to new heights and has the proven ability to work collaboratively with educators at this critical time in the city’s schools. Sadly, that’s not what they’re getting.

“The Lawrence Alliance for Education and Acting Commissioner Johnston have completely ignored months of work by the search committee, a community process that included valuable input from families and residents, in-depth  candidate surveys, and feedback from professional educators, administrators, and staff."

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Jessica Tang Facebook

Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang was unanimously elected President of the AFT Massachusetts at the statewide union’s annual convention this weekend. She began her career in Boston Public Schools as a middle school social studies teacher, and is the first person of color to serve as President of AFT Massachusetts.
 
“It’s an honor to represent the 25,000 educators, librarians, health and public service workers from across the commonwealth who make up AFT Massachusetts,” said Tang. “Our union shares a vision of a state with public schools and colleges that all of our students can thrive in, and libraries and public services that all of our communities can be proud of. Massachusetts should continue to be a model for what’s possible, and I know we can achieve tremendous things when we as union members organize together with our communities.”
 
“I look forward to working together with the members of AFT Massachusetts to build our power, not just as AFT Massachusetts members, but as a labor movement and in partnership with community allies,” she said. “Together, we will amplify the voices of workers, students, families, and our neighbors, and continue to build the great schools and communities we deserve.”

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Gayl Hurley

Lowell Public School Community Manager Gayl Hurley is in her 25th year as an educator, and she’s always looking for new ways to support students and their families at the Sullivan Middle School in Lowell, where she works.

Last school year, Hurley brought in a barber a few times to provide free haircuts for students, and the response was overwhelming. Within a few days, nearly 60 students signed up.

Hurley, United Teachers of Lowell union rep who is in her 12th year in the Lowell Public Schools, immediately began working to set up the first operational barbershop in a middle school in Massachusetts. With the support of a federal Community Schools grant awarded to the district, she was able to open “Husky Kutz” this past fall.

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WIT FB Square

The Wentworth Institute of Technology Faculty Federation, AFT Local 2403, which represents the faculty and librarians at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, recently negotiated a strong three-year contract that includes a salary increase of 16.5% over three years, the addition of lecturers as members of the union, and a host of other workplace benefits.

“Winning our new contract was the result of our union's patience, determination, and unity,” said Ted Rooney, an Associate Professor of English and President of the Wentworth Faculty Federation. “Those are the fundamental elements of any successful union initiative. The union negotiation team established ambitious goals for the contract, remained steadfast in the face of management resistance to union demands, and refused to accept unreasonable proposals from management. At all times, meanwhile, the negotiating team had the full support of the union membership, which was made clear during the several meetings the negotiating team held to update members.”

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MLK Day 2024

As we observe MLK Jr. Day this year, I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on these words. As educators and librarians, we have a duty to equip our students not only with knowledge, but with the tools they need to apply that knowledge to improving their communities and the world. And as a union, we must stand up for the audacious vision Dr. King describes: a world where all the needs of our students and our communities - both physical and nonmaterial - are fully met.

I’m constantly inspired by the students I see living out their values in the world, whether they’re organizing rallies for racial and gender justice, working to reduce climate change in their communities, or advocating for the high-quality, fully-resourced schools they deserve. Let’s remember Dr. King’s words this month, and continue working towards the ‘worthy objectives’ that he spoke of. - Beth Kontos, AFT Massachusetts President

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NR Paras

After a months-long contract campaign by the North Reading Federation of Paraprofessionals (NRFP) that featured rallies on the Town Common, paraprofessionals speaking up at School Committee meetings, and parents and students voicing their support for the union’s priorities, the union reached a new 3-year agreement with the school committee in late November.

“The strength and unity of our members showed management that we deserve to be respected and compensated for the hard work that we do every day,” said Nancy Scioli, a Paraprofessional at the Little School and President of the North Reading Federation of Paraprofessionals.

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Freedom in our libraries

In recent years, Massachusetts libraries have been increasingly affected by a coordinated, nationwide effort to bar or restrict access to books and programming that extremist groups find objectionable. According to the American Library Association, Massachusetts saw 45 documented attempts to censor books and other library resources in 2022 — the fourth highest number of any state. 90% of reported book challenges were demands to censor multiple titles - and of those demands to censor library books, 40% sought to remove or restrict more than 100 books all at once.

“The members of the Massachusetts Library Staff Association fully support the concept of intellectual freedom: the right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment,” said Patricia Kelly, Head of Reference at the Lynnfield Public Library and President of the Massachusetts Library Staff Association. “We are so proud and grateful that our union siblings in the NSLC, AFT Massachusetts, and MA AFL-CIO have joined us in support of libraries, library programs, and access to information for all.”

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Thrive

More than a hundred students, parents, educators, community activists, union leaders, researchers, and concerned citizens – many wearing blue Thrive Act t-shirts in solidarity – descended on the State House on Oct. 4 in a passionate display of support for the Thrive Act, a landmark education bill that was given a hearing that day before the Joint Committee on Education..

“Passing the Thrive Act is the equivalent of proclaiming to the nation from the dome of this beautiful State House: The painful, destructive era of test-blame-shame-and-punish is over,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos in her written testimony. “There is a better way to do things, and Massachusetts will once again show the way.”

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Higher ed for all

“With the passage of the Fair Share Amendment, Massachusetts has an opportunity to build a public higher education system that lives up to our values and prepares Massachusetts students to be active, engaged participants in their communities, the workforce, and our society,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Students today are struggling with the cost of college and a lack of adequate support services, while adjunct educators struggle with low pay and limited benefits. Our public college campuses have insufficient funding to address crumbling buildings, rising student needs, and staffing shortages. We’re pleased to support the Higher Ed for All campaign to reverse the budget cuts that have occurred over the past several decades, and begin rebuilding a truly public state college and university system.”

On Monday, September 18, AFT Massachusetts Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan, Grant O’Rielly, President of the UMass Faculty Federation at UMass Dartmouth, and Nick Gula, President of the AFTMA Maintainers at UMass Dartmouth, all testified before a hearing of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education in support of two bills that would transform our public higher education system for the better. The hearing was attended by dozens of energetic educators, students, and community members, and watched by supporters across the state, including at a UMass Dartmouth watch party.

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