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Join AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and US Senator Ed Markey on May 25 at 5 p.m. via Zoom to learn about how we're organizing to win the Fair Share campaign on this November's statewide ballot! Find out about this once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise new revenue for Massachusetts public schools, colleges, roads, bridges, and public transportation, and learn how you can get involved in the campaign.   The Fair Share Amendment is a proposal to add a small tax on annual individual incomes exceeding $1 million. While the amendment is expected to impact fewer than 1% of taxpayers, it is projected to raise $1-2 billion each year for investments in transportation and public education. The Fair Share Amendment is on the ballot statewide on November 8, 2022. MORE

In response to a lawsuit filed by corporate lobbyists against the Fair Share Amendment, the question on this November's ballot that would generate over $1 billion a year to improve Massachusetts transportation and public education systems by creating a 4 percent tax on annual income above $1 million, the 23,000-member AFT Massachusetts today released the following statement from AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos:

"Massachusetts students are struggling to recover from the pandemic, drivers and bus riders all across the state are travelling on crumbling roads and bridges, and students at

​ “Earning a degree from a state college – which was once heralded as a pathway of opportunity – has become completely unfeasible for most middle-class families and students across Massachusetts,” says Dr. Grant O’Rielly, President of the UMass Dartmouth Faculty Federation. The new study from the Hildreth Institute, a local higher education policy think tank, found that tuition and fees at the state’s public colleges and universities have increased at one of the fastest rates in the nation, drastically exceeding family incomes. Since 2000, median family income in Massachusetts has risen only 13%, but even after adjusting for inflation, tuition and fees at Umass Dartmouth have increased by 57% – a $6,205 price hike. That's the second largest hike in the UMass system (behind UMass Lowell at 59.6%). “The faculty see it on our campuses and in our classrooms. Enrollment is down. Students and families are being told that in order to attend a state school, they’ll need to take out burdensome loans because even the maximum amount of state aid will cover only a fraction of their costs," says Dr. O’Rielly. "If we’re serious about supporting and lifting up families across the state and serious about ensuring that we prepare the youth of Massachusetts to contribute to the future economy of the Commonwealth – breaking down the barriers to public higher education is a critical first step.” MORE
“We engaged in a strategic escalation campaign over the course of a year: putting pressure on decision makers while building our own strength as a union,” said President Jamie Cutone. “It was critical that our membership understood that seeing the whole process through was the only chance at seeing success despite the lengthy process.” The union created a petition signed by hundreds of teachers, school staff, parents, students, and other community supporters. Bright red yard signs that read “We Support Our Teachers - Contract for Holliston” appeared on lawns across town, buttons were adorned by staff and cars in the school parking lot displayed signs as well. During a district-wide walk-in at all four Holliston schools, staff wore red and held signs at drop-off, then walked into the building together in a show of unity. Teachers and community supporters made a presence with School Committee members, taking every chance to speak up about the hard work teachers were doing in the schools and their need for a fair contract. MORE
It’s no secret that Massachusetts has been hit hard by COVID, but for low-income and communities of color, it’s been particularly damaging. Chelsea, one of Massachusetts poorest communities, have been ringing the crisis alarm for decades. This ringing came to head, however, in December 2021 when community leaders, parents, students, educators and paraprofessionals joined forces, demanding a slew of improvements for school and staff alike. After years of building power and taking collective action, the Chelsea Teachers Union won many of their demands. We sat down and spoke with Kathryn Anderson, President of the Chelsea Teachers’ Union (CTU), to see what this win for the local and the community means moving forward. “Chelsea was hit hard by COVID,” said Anderson. “It was only made worse because our community as a whole has been underserved, underfunded, and underemployed.” Local school districts have become a magnifying glass for the intersection between community, young people, and educational workers. Anderson adds, “it’s not just about all these things coming together, but it tells the story of what districts have been going through for a very long time.” Chelsea has endured drastic budget cuts for decades, leaving educators and students worse for the wear. “The biggest pressure we’ve seen is increasing class sizes and community pressures. During the pandemic, nearly half of our student population experienced a food and /or housing crisis and over 80% of our community had lost income or had a major health crisis.”  MORE
As a Salem Public Schools graduate, as a student at UMASS Dartmouth, and during her years of community organizing on issues including the No on Question 2 ballot campaign, the fight for a $15 minimum wage, and COVID response efforts, Anabel Santiago has spent her life learning and working around AFT Massachusetts members. Now, as an AFT Massachusetts Organizer, she’s working with locals across the state, bringing her comprehensive community organizing experience to bear on the issues our members care about. “It has been wonderful to watch Anabel go from being a student to an activist fighting for education equity and other issues facing families and educators across the state,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Anabel has been a part of a number of coalitions and campaigns that the AFT Massachusetts has played a critical role in and I’ve enjoyed connecting with her as our paths have crossed over the years. Her dedication to fighting for justice and on behalf of families throughout Massachusetts is admirable. The AFT Massachusetts and those on the ground she is working with are fortunate to have an organizer as determined and skilled as Anabel.” MORE
DESE has proposed suspending certain school accountability measures for School Year 2021-22, citing unreliable MCAS data from School Year 2020-21, when MCAS was administered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, DESE plans to continue in 2022 with the heart of its accountability regime: the calculation of the school percentile metric, which is used to rank schools against each other based primarily on MCAS scores. DESE invited public comment on this proposal, and President Kontos’ letter was in response to that invitation. “What troubles us greatly…is your stated intent to move forward with the school percentile metric—a metric that research shows to be biased and deeply flawed,” Kontos writes in her letter. “The disruption to MCAS data caused by the pandemic only exacerbates the problems with this metric.” Kontos’ letter cites recent research, including from a Nobel Prize-winning MIT economist, showing that the school percentile metric and its underlying MCAS achievement measures are biased and inaccurate measures of school quality. In other words, the supposed inferiority of low-rated schools serving predominantly students of color is due to inaccuracy in the measures (standardized test achievement levels) and is not due to lower-quality education. MORE
Union Invites Public to ‘Fill the Library with Love’ to Begin Healing, Stand Up to Hatred and Bullying! In the wake of several separate incidents of disruption and hate at local libraries, the members of the Boston Public Library Professional Staff Association have called for a public show of unity and kindness. On Saturday, February 19 at 12:00 noon, at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library, union members will be standing out and speaking up at a ‘Fill the Library with Love’ unity gathering to support staff and patrons who have been through these attacks and show love for the safe space that the library offers our community.   In three separate recent incidents, a group that is opposed to masking, vaccines, and diversity came into children’s rooms at the Central Library and the Hyde Park Library to protest COVID protection measures. While there, they intimidated and harassed members of the public and staff at the library and refused to leave when asked. During another incident at the Central Library, a bust of Maya Angelou had gasoline dumped on it. These actions created an atmosphere of intimidation and fear that should never exist in the library. MORE

"Starbucks workers in Greater Boston are at the forefront of the national campaign to form a union, and they have the full support of AFT Massachusetts and the 23,000 educators, librarians and school employees we represent," said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. "Like union educators, Starbucks baristas know that a union means a real voice in the workplace, better wages and benefits, and protection against abusive management. Right now, Starbucks workers are working for less than they deserve, while the company ignores their valuable ideas. At the same time, Starbucks' CEO made more

Join us and stand in solidarity with the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals on February 14th at 4:30 PM as they fight for a living wage! Springfield para educators have gone two years now, through the pandemic, with no contract! They have been active in negotiations with the Springfield School Committee and have seen little progress and a lack of respect for their work on the other side of the negotiation table. MORE