Union News: Building Our Union Power, Victories Across Locals

Union News: Building Our Union Power, Victories Across Locals

educators association of worcester

Greetings, MTA members,

Local victories came from all regions of the state over the past week. The Braintree Education Association won a strong contract, which included four weeks of paid parental leave and a 23 percent increase for instructional aides.

Nearby, the Wellesley Educators Association reached a settlement after educators brought increasing pressure to bear over these past weeks. The result? The school committee added nearly $2 million to the contract offer last week, including bumping paraprofessional starting pay from roughly $25,000 to $32,000 immediately. The union made gains on all of its “Fair Five” demands, including more prep time for teachers, just cause for ESPs and paid parental leave.

Worcester, our largest preK-12 local, won a nearly 20 percent pay increase over four years. Next week its paraprofessional unit will try to reach an agreement that will carry their members towards a true living wage. These are some of the strongest contracts these locals have won.

And in the 413, our union siblings at UMass Amherst took on the privatizers in the UMass President’s office, which had threatened to lay off more than 120 unionized staff in order to privatize the university’s development office. The Professional Staff Union mobilized its members, as well as the area’s state representatives and senators and much of our Massachusetts congressional delegation. They applied pressure on the administration, which has tried to chip away at the workforce of UMass, the largest unionized worksite in New England. By the end of the week, the PSU had forced the university to guarantee that no one would lose their state employment, thus saving the pensions of these members. But the fight against this latest privatization effort at the university will continue.

Underlying the victories described above, all of these MTA locals led campaigns that were built on member power and will continue to build that power for future struggles for better working and learning conditions.

Lastly, the state budget process continues. The Senate is debating its budget, which includes some significant funds for public education, preK through higher education. We are filing several amendments to increase funds for our schools and colleges even further. Take action and urge your state senator to support MTA’s priority budget amendments.

MTA Events and Solidarity Actions

New Member Liaison Program
Please note that the submission of New Member Liaison appointments for 2023-2024 is now open. This program is integral to the success of recruiting new hires to join and engage with their union by having a role dedicated to early career educators and staff. The first 100 New Member Liaisons appointed are guaranteed a $350 stipend for the year. To learn more about the role, feel free to review the New Member Liaison job description. Presidents can appoint a New Member Liaison by submitting this form. If you are interested in becoming a New Member Liaison, please contact your local or chapter leadership. Any questions or concerns may be directed to our New Member Organizer, Josh Levit, at jlevit@massteacher.org.

Support Your Union Siblings
Check out this list of 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.

Over the weekend at the MTA statewide retreat of ALANA members – who are African, Latino/a/x, Asian and Native American – educators discussed and created a group vision. The goals include living wages, successful retirement, creating, supporting and empowering new educators of color, and seeking accountability from our union. All BIPOC members of the MTA are eligible to join ALANA. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Sarah McLaughlin at smclaughlin@massteacher.org.

RetirementPlus (R+)
After years of lobbying the Legislature, the MTA and the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS) successfully changed state law to allow people who transferred from one district to another a one-time opportunity to participate in RetirementPlus (R+). An election ballot was sent in mid-January only to those members who qualify. A second ballot was sent on March 31 and must be returned by June 30, 2023. If you have not received your ballot, please email the MTRS at retirementplus@trb.state.ma.us.

Political Education

Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The New Yorker, wonders in his essay in The New York Times what we lose when our schools teach our students to focus on achievement over accomplishment:

“Achievement is the completion of the task imposed from outside — the reward often being a path to the next achievement. Accomplishment is the end point of an engulfing activity we’ve chosen, whose reward is the sudden rush of fulfillment, the sense of happiness that rises uniquely from absorption in a thing outside ourselves.”

In Solidarity,

Max and Deb