Union News: Celebrating Juneteenth with a Commitment to “Strike Out Racism”

Union News: Celebrating Juneteenth with a Commitment to “Strike Out Racism”

juneteenth 2023

Greetings, MTA members,

We celebrated Juneteenth on Monday with a couple hundred members and their families at Polar Park in Worcester, under the call to “Strike Out Racism.” Everett Hoagland, the New Bedford poet laureate emeritus and professor emeritus at UMass Dartmouth, read several of his poems and signed copies of his book, “The Ways.”

Another New Bedford resident, Candida Rose, sang. Then the dancing began, led by DJ Chuck Chillin. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, as well as a Massachusetts and MTA holiday. It is celebrated differently in each community. Led by our Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee – a huge shout-out for their enormous efforts in pulling this and previous Juneteenth celebrations together – we in the MTA are creating our own traditions. Put it on your calendar to be at the next Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 2024!

On hand at the Juneteenth festivities was Mike Fadel, our new executive director-treasurer. On Saturday, the MTA Board of Directors enthusiastically approved hiring Mike to lead our 200-person staff.

Mike has almost 30 years of experience in the labor movement. Before coming to the MTA almost three and a half years ago as our field and organizing director, he was a member activist and organizer, field rep, organizing director, staff director, executive vice president, and executive director for other unions.

MTA Events and Solidarity Actions

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.

MTA Summer Conference
Registration for MTA Summer Conference at UMass Amherst, August 6 - 9, is open! The conference will feature more than 100 workshops and events, not to mention good food (the best campus food in the country, six years running!), special guest speakers, dancing and relaxing at our “educator camp.”

Community college members deserve a raise – three years ago!
Our community college faculty and staff have been without a raise for 1,085 days! The contracts are signed, sealed and delivered to the Legislature – they only await the Legislature’s vote and the governor’s signature. Please take just a minute to help our Massachusetts Community College Council members get a long-delayed raise by writing to House leaders.

Teacher of the Year Calls for Passage of the Thrive Act
Dani Charbonneau, MTA member and 2023 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, wrote a terrific piece in the Boston Globe yesterday in which she argues for the passage of the Thrive Act. She writes, in part: “Massachusetts is one of only eight states that in 2023 still require a standardized test as a graduation requirement, according to FairTest.org. Educators will tell you that preparation for that exam and the anxiety around high-stakes testing take time away from what educators know works, what we see is most relevant, and what builds the best humans on the other side of graduation.”

Right to Strike Debate
Enjoy watching this debate about our right to strike legislation. We will humbly suggest that Max bested his Newton school committee opponent, making the case for why strikes are sometimes necessary to secure the schools and colleges our students and educators deserve – and therefore why they should be legal. Read our right-to-strike legislation.

Classified Staff and Adjunct Faculty Bills of Rights
A couple of years ago, our ESP members developed the MTA PreK-12 ESP Bill of Rights. Over 200 locals have now endorsed that bill of rights. Inspired and guided by our ESPs, Classified staff at UMass Amherst and adjunct faculty have each developed a Bill of Rights, to advance justice for these underpaid but essential workers on our public college and university campuses. The MTA Board of Directors endorsed these inspiring documents on Saturday.

Speak out on mental health solutions
Please participate in our forum on mental health challenges among students and educators. In addition to strategies you use as educators, we would love to hear from you on your ideas for institutional change. If you were in charge of your school, district or the board of education, what approaches would you implement to improve mental health and well-being for all?

Political Education

We’d urge you to read or listen to this article. It’s not about education, but about affordable housing, and not even affordable housing in the United States. But the story of how Vienna, over the course of the 20th Century, created a system of public and limited-profit housing that houses a majority of the city’s residents in solid, mixed-income complexes, and asks residents to pay a small fraction of their income to have a roof over their heads, reminds us of how far off our society is from achieving housing security for our people.

Nearly half of Boston residents pay a third of their income in rent; a full quarter pay more than 50 percent. In Vienna? It is often in the single digits. And the housing is guaranteed for life and guaranteed not to go up more than any rise in inflation.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb