Greetings, MTA members!
Congratulations to the Melrose Education Association members, their students, and all Melrose families for winning a strong contract over the long weekend after nearly 200 days of frustrating negotiations. Their actions last week led to a rapid and successful conclusion of negotiations.
On Friday, we visited the just-unveiled monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, on the Boston Common. Later that afternoon, MEA members voted to go on strike after months of fruitless negotiations with the Melrose school committee and mayor. We could not think of a better way to honor a man who demanded racial and economic justice as twin, intertwined battles.
As we were finalizing this weekly, we were listening to Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia Journalism School, speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast about King’s longtime commitment to winning civil rights for African Americans as part of his ultimate vision of rights and economic justice for all. On April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated, Dr. King spoke in Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers: “Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school – be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”
The actions of MEA – following the actions of educators in Malden and Haverhill, Brookline, Andover, Tewksbury, Dedham and Belmont – are inspiring as they show what our members are willing to do to secure fair contracts, which secure the working conditions and learning conditions that our members and our students deserve.
That’s why MTA has made one of its five legislative priorities reclaiming the right to strike by public sector workers. Our members will bravely act as they deem necessary. It is time, however, for the state to rectify a century-old legislative mistake.
A regular feature of our weekly email is this list, where you can view upcoming actions. Please add your own to this form. The more we show up for one another, the greater the power we generate for local and statewide campaigns.
The 2023 MTA Early Career Educators Conference will be held on Saturday, March 4, at Worcester Technical High School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit massteacher.org/ececonference for more information. Registration will be opening soon so please mark your calendars.
The 2023 MTA Education Support Professionals Conference will be held from March 31 to April 1. Join us at a new location, Hotel 1620, in Plymouth. Registration will open in February.
The inaugural MTA Environmental Health & Safety Summit will be held Saturday, March 4, at 9 a.m. It will be held at Worcester Technical High School. Look for registration soon.
What is the distinction between burnout and demoralization? Register to learn more in this timely workshop, to be held Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m., hosted by Uniting To Save Our Schools, in collaboration with the MTA. The speakers include author Doris Santoro and colleagues.
NEA President Becky Pringle will speak at Harvard Law School on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m., about legal and organizing priorities for the labor movement. Use this link to register for the virtual discussion.
Join the Citizens for Public Schools’ series on Asian Americans in Public Education, Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. Learn more.
A national conversation on MCAS
Please join us for a national conversation around the use of high-stakes testing and its detrimental impact on our students and families. Register for this Feb. 8 event. Speakers include MTA Vice President Deb McCarthy, Angela Valenzuela, Wayne Au and Congressman Jamaal Bowman.
NEA Conference Opportunities
Get involved! Each year, MTA receives an allocation from NEA to send members to NEA national conferences. Learn more about each conference opportunity and complete the form indicating one or more choices among the conferences you are interested in attending.
Free Student Loan Forgiveness
Webinars The pause on federal student loan payments has been extended again, but the date on which they will resume has not yet been determined. There has also been a new payment adjustment opportunity added to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that provides a one-time opportunity to have payment counts increased, but you must consolidate before May 1, 2023. Sign up for a free upcoming webinar to learn more.
The house I grew up in and still live in today with my family is a block away from a big house on Amity Street that I have walked by a thousand times. It has long been lived in by students – maybe some of you lived in it when you attended UMass Amherst! I recently learned that it had been the home of Mary Heaton Vorse, one of the most important labor journalists of the first decades of the 20th Century. She was a feminist and a union supporter. Given what happened in Melrose (and Malden and Haverhill a few months ago), I thought I’d share an excerpt from her writing:
On the 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence: “Lawrence is a small town: there are 20,000 people there who, whatever else happens, can never again have the race hatreds and creed prejudices that they did before they had learned what working together may mean. They have learned, too, the value of organization and their one executive ability has been developed, for they have had to feed a great company of people and administer the use of the strike funds. Young girls have had executive positions. Men and women who have nothing but work in the home and mill have developed a larger social consciousness. A strike like this makes people think. Almost every day for weeks people of every one of these nations have gone to their crowded meetings and listened to the speaker and have discussed these questions afterward, and in the morning the women have resumed their duty on the picket lines and the working together for what they believed was a common good.”
From Rebel Pen: The Writings of Mary Heaton Vorse (ed. Dee Garrison, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1985).
Max and Deb