It truly has been an honor to serve as your president, and the journey with you has been joyful. This is your union — fully.
The union we have become — because of the way you are organizing and fighting — has exceeded my highest hopes for what we could accomplish together in the four short years that I have been your president. My favorite part of the job was visiting your locals to support your struggles and standing together in statewide actions.
At the beginning of my term, we were doing new things: We started to build solidarity networks, held standouts, and had coffee and doughnuts in the parking lot to bring rank-and-file members into their own local struggles or stand in solidarity with members of other locals. These small actions had a compounding effect that led to a new MTA tradition and culture.
Many of the most transformative things you have done have their roots in democratized bargaining.
The union we have become — because of the way you are organizing and fighting — has exceeded my highest hopes for what we could accomplish together.
In changing the culture of bargaining, MTA members understood what it meant to be the union. This led to taking on fights ranging from opposing bullying school administrators to doing what we needed to do to win fair contracts in locals at all levels, from preK to higher education. You have understood yourselves as unionists — how we build our collective power and how we develop relationships with our communities.
The change in the way that we approach negotiations has led to bargaining for racial justice, the common good, and a livable wage. It has brought us big wins. Sharon and Andover took courageous collective action and refused to go into unsafe buildings at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And members in Dedham and Brookline went on strike.
Democratized bargaining has emboldened our members to stick to their principles and pride when they enter negotiations. The recent strike in Brookline will have a lasting effect, including an impact on negotiations that are coming up this fall.All of this recalls what my predecessor, Barbara Madeloni, had to say about embers, when fanned, becoming flames. Over the last four years, you have done a lot of fanning and created wildfires. You have learned from each other. You have inspired each other, and you have inspired me.
"The change in the way that we approach negotiations has led to bargaining for racial justice, the common good, and a livable wage."
And let’s not forget winning the Student Opportunity Act, the largest investment in public education in nearly three decades.
This is how we are winning — and it is just the beginning.
Organizing through the MTA, you have changed the narrative of higher education. And rank-and-file Education Support Professionals have developed a bill of rights and are actively organizing in dozens of cities and towns for respect and a livable wage. Adjunct faculty members are on a similar path toward developing their own bill of rights. MTA educators are growing their union power day by day, week by week, and month by month.
And we were all hit by — and changed by — the pandemic.
While it has been one of the most challenging parts of our lives, it has helped our members understand what it means to be part of the MTA. That is because of how we’ve done the work. The MTA brought you together, and you took the same health and safety proposals back to our nearly 400 locals and their bargaining teams.
Fighting for safe schools and college buildings has converged with fighting for racial and social justice. This is how we’ve become the most powerful entity in the state.
In the past few months, we have seen a rogue U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion, which had been upheld for almost half a century. And the court has further plans for what to attack and dismantle next — from marriage equality to access to contraception.
The Supreme Court’s latest decisions put us on a trajectory that endangers us all. The court and others are engaged in a war to dismantle democracy. What is at stake affects all of us in profound ways. The issues are labor issues because they are fundamentally about everything from women’s rights to people’s right to decide whether to bear children, from gender identity to freedom in the workplace. They concern people's ability to work and their ability to make choices for themselves.
The progress we've made over decades is under threat.
But as long as we understand that progress is always temporary, the fight to maintain progress — and make more — will continue and strengthen.
As civil rights activist Coretta Scott King once said, “Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”
"There is hope in collective action."
Progress is never permanent. We know what our job is in the days and years ahead. That is how we keep hope. There is hope in collective action.
As I leave the MTA presidency, I feel privileged to have served you. I do so with the confidence that you will live up to what Coretta Scott King said. That is because I have faith in you, the educators of Massachusetts, to understand this vital truth: When we fight, we win.