Annual Meeting delegates re-elect Najimy and Page to lead MTA

Annual Meeting delegates re-elect Najimy and Page to lead MTA

merrie najimi and max page
MTA President Merrie Najimy and Vice President Max Page were re-elected to new two-year terms at the 2020 Annual Meeting of Delegates. More than 1,200 delegates attended via computer.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy and Vice President Max Page were re-elected to new terms as leaders of the association at today’s Annual Meeting of Delegates.

The 2020 Annual Meeting marked the MTA’s 175th anniversary — and it was the first such event to be held virtually. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the delegates participated remotely, voting to fill seats for MTA offices, pass a budget for the coming fiscal year, honor award winners, and fulfill other key responsibilities.

More than 1,200 members took part in the video conference, which began just after 9 a.m. and ended in the early afternoon.

2020 Election Results

MTA members were elected to the presidency, vice presidency, Board of Directors, Executive Committee and the Retired Members Committee at the 2020 MTA Annual Meeting.

View Results

Najimy, who ran unopposed for a second two-year term, was re-elected with 1,121 votes. She is a longtime Concord elementary school teacher and a past president of the Concord Teachers Association.

Page, a professor of architecture at UMass Amherst and former president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors chapter there, also ran unopposed for a second term. He received 1,128 votes.

The delegates represented about 117,000 MTA preK-12, higher education and Retired members from across Massachusetts.

Najimy and Page — who both initially won office in 2018 — will begin their new terms on July 15.

Najimy said she was honored to have been re-elected, describing the meeting as “an affirmation that our members believe in the agenda of the MTA.”

“In this time of profound distress,” she continued, “we are trying to cope in the moment. We are all experiencing personal loss. Our retirees are feeling more vulnerable than ever. We are also trying to understand how the pandemic will change our future.”

The challenges ahead — including the reopening of school buildings and college campuses — will bring additional needs, she noted.

“Public education will require an abundance of new human and financial resources to engage students and support adults when our needs will be most acute,” she said. “Now more than ever, we need full funding for our schools and colleges. Now more than ever, the MTA must lead the fight to reimagine and rebuild public education — and for racial and economic justice for our schools, colleges and society.

“The task ahead is enormous,” Najimy added. “But I have great confidence that we will overcome. When we fight, we win!”

Page expressed similar sentiments.

“Even as we all are deeply worried about the health of our friends, families and students, and worry about the future of the economy, I know that the MTA will emerge stronger and be an even more powerful advocate for just public schools and colleges, and a just Commonwealth,” he said.

“I have never felt so proud and impressed with the strength of this union,” Page said. “We have strengthened our union muscles over the past five years, with statewide fights such as Question 2 and our tremendous Student Opportunity Act victory, as well as countless passionate battles for fair contracts across the state. That exercise of union power will be incredibly valuable as we make our way through this crisis and back toward building the public schools and colleges we all deserve — and building the kind of Commonwealth we all want to live in.”

The delegates elected new members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. Those who are part of the Statewide Retired District filled four seats on the MTA Retired Members Committee.

An operating budget of $48,486,926 was adopted for fiscal 2020-2021, and the delegates passed a general dues assessment of $20 to fund the association’s Public Relations/Organizing Campaign.

"You are the union."

MTA President Merrie Najimy
The MTA Board had voted earlier this spring to scale back the 2020 session from two days to one and to reduce the agenda, so consideration of proposed changes to the association’s Bylaws, Standing Rules and Resolutions was deferred to the 2021 Annual Meeting.

At an Issues Forum during the meeting, Najimy led a discussion of the association’s All In Blueprint Project, a major MTA initiative aimed at building the union’s power in the post-Janus era.

MTA Executive Director-Treasurer Lisa Gallatin joined Najimy and a number of members in outlining the various facets of the project. Gallatin also credited the MTA’s staff and members for working together during the pandemic to pull together this year’s Annual Meeting in a virtual format.

Najimy expressed her appreciation to the delegates for having passed the operating budget, which she said will “allow us to act on the principles laid out in the Blueprint and other important campaigns, such as an ESP Bill of Rights and Living Wage campaign, and to continue the work of Fund Our Future.”

“The PR/O budget will continue to provide our members with the resources that support local organizing initiatives, especially as they find new ways to conduct union activity,” Najimy said.

The delegates also took time to celebrate the accomplishments of fellow educators, labor and education allies, and young people who are in the vanguard of the environmental justice movement.

Before beginning the segment of the meeting dedicated to awards, Najimy offered a remembrance of all fellow educators and other public employees who have passed away during the year, focusing in part on those who have died of COVID-19 or lost loved ones during the pandemic.

She also paid tribute to José Soler, a longtime activist for social justice who died recently. Soler, who had served as co-chair of the New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools, was a co-recipient of last year’s Friend of Education Award with fellow activist Ricardo Rosa.

amy morin
Amy Morin, a member of the All In Member Blueprint Working Group, described a key priority during the issues forum.

MTA members — 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Takeru Nagayoshi and 2020 MTA Education Support Professional of the Year Sonia Fortin — were among those recognized during the presentation of awards.

Nagayoshi, a New Bedford High School Advanced Placement English and Research teacher, is a member of the New Bedford Educators Association who brings his own life experiences as a son of Japanese immigrants and a gay person of color to the fight for equity inside and outside of the classroom. The author of numerous op-eds on education and social justice issues, Nagayoshi coaches developing teachers in high-need districts and lends his voice to panels, committees and task forces that focus on education equity, especially in urban districts.

Fortin, the ESP of the Year, is the sole academic tutor in the Bridges Program at the Ephraim Curtis Middle School in Sudbury. Fortin, who has worked at Curtis for 10 years and serves as treasurer of the Sudbury Education Association, was the driving force behind the middle school’s Gay Straight Alliance and organized the Safe Space Initiative, a place at the school where students who identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies can meet, safe from judgment.

The MTA Friend of Education Award was presented to the Players Coalition — and in particular to four of its members who made education funding a top priority in 2019.

New England Patriots Devin McCourty, his twin brother, Jason McCourty, Matthew Slater and Duron Harmon — who is now a member of the Detroit Lions — all demonstrated their commitment to low-income students and children of color in their advocacy for the bill that eventually became the Student Opportunity Act. They testified at a packed legislative hearing and used their prominence to shine a light on education disparities and the need to educate all students in well-funded public schools.

The MTA Friend of Labor Award was presented to Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO.

Nelson represents 50,000 of aviation’s first responders working at 20 airlines. She made headlines during a 35-day federal government shutdown in 2018 when she took to social media and cable TV to warn of the dangers of not paying airport workers — and called for a general strike to end the shutdown. Nelson earned the title “America’s most powerful flight attendant” from The New York Times for her leadership role during the shutdown.

Najimy presented the President’s Award to the Youth Climate Strike movement. Three young environmental justice activists from the Sunrise Movement accepted the honor — but Najimy said the recognition “extends to the many thousands of students who have been raising their voices to demand action on climate change and other crucial environmental issues.”

She thanked the three 18-year-old activists who accepted the honor on behalf of the movement — Amalia Hochman of Somerville, Audrey Lin of Watertown and Anjali Mitra of Brookline.

“As educators, we work tirelessly to prepare students for their future,” Najimy said. “But these students remind us that we must all take action to ensure they have a world in which they — and everyone else — can grow and thrive.”

The activists appeared on the livestream to acknowledge the award.

“We know that without action right now, there is no point in going to school and preparing for a future that we won’t have,” said Lin.

In her closing remarks, Najimy offered words of optimism and encouragement for all MTA members.

“You are shaping the future of public education, our union and our society,” she told the delegates. “You have built the regional solidarity networks that are more vital now than ever before. You are organizing across college and university campuses.

“You won the Student Opportunity Act,” she continued, and “you are democratizing bargaining.”

“You are the union.”

Learn more about the MTA award winners, watch videos and see photos.