I hope you are finding time to enjoy the summer. It sure seems there is no summer vacation for the forces seeking to undermine the collective bargaining rights of public employees. Thanks to all who are taking the time to read these messages and take action this summer. Rest up, as we will need an even higher level of engagement in the fall if we are to make progress on testing, charters, Social Security fairness, education funding and so many other issues.
Supreme Court to Take Up Anti-Union Case
A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 30 to take up a case involving "fair share" payments by employees could deal a blow to the rights of educators and other public employees across the country. The court is expected to hear the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association next winter and to deliver a ruling by the end of June. A court decision against unions could abolish the kind of "fair share" (also known as "agency fee") payments that are currently allowed in Massachusetts and 24 other states plus the District of Columbia. Our challenge is to make sure we are so strong and effective at defending the interests of our members, our students and our communities that educators will want to join and pay their fair share regardless of what the Supreme Court rules.
Legislature Undermines Key Union Law
The fiscal year 2016 budget approved by the Legislature contains a shameful provision that exempts the MBTA from the Taxpayer Protection Act, better known as the Pacheco Law, for three years. As Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman said in this statement, "Thousands of dedicated workers must now worry that the job they depend on will be sold to the lowest bidder, without even the slightest assurance to the public that the same level of service will be upheld or that their tax dollars are being spent wisely." The exemption was sought by Governor Charlie Baker and was originally included in the House budget, but not in the Senate's. The final budget included a modified version of the House provision. The 22-year-old Pacheco Law doesn't bar the government from contracting out work; it simply requires agencies to prove that a private contractor will save money while providing equal- or higher-quality services. Undermining this law is of serious concern to all who care about the rights of working men and women and the quality of services they provide.
Contact Congress for Social Security Fairness
The NEA is renewing a push for legislation to end the punitive reduction in Social Security benefits that affects public employees in Massachusetts and 14 other states. Click here for an NEA bulletin on the GPO/WEP issue and for a link to send a message to your members of Congress in support of the Social Security Fairness Act of 2015. Click here for more information about the impact of these provisions on MTA members. Act now!
Education, Inc. Explores Who Profits from Education "Reform"
Did you ever wonder why hedge fund managers and other billionaires contribute millions of dollars to promote the school privatization agenda? Education, Inc. is a documentary that might make your blood boil when you find out who's behind so many of the education "reform" policies that we suffer under today. But the film also shows how communities are fighting back. Grassroots screenings are being planned for Aug. 14, but the film could be shown anytime at a community or association forum. For more information about the film and a local screening guide, click here. If you would like a FREE copy of the movie to show at a local screening, please contact Ari Mercado in the MTA Division of Governance and Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cost of College Keeps Rising. There Is a Better Way.
The cost of attending a public college or university in Massachusetts is going up, even though students are already suffering under a huge burden of debt. It doesn't have to be this way. Indeed, the MTA supports free public higher education, and we can achieve that goal by simply righting the imbalance and injustice in our tax system. It is well past time for Massachusetts to rethink and reimagine how much those earning the highest incomes are contributing to support the well-being of our Commonwealth. Reducing income inequality and creating opportunities for all: now those are education reforms we could get behind.
Stay safe as you drive around this summer, and enjoy your break if you're getting one!