Union News: Hundreds testify in support of Cherish Act

Union News: Hundreds testify in support of Cherish Act

cherish act hearing


Yesterday some two hundred MTA members, students, and community allies gathered to give testimony at the State House on one of our union’s top priorities – passage of the Cherish Act.

Check out some of the passionate testimony from our members who came from across the state. Please also take action right now, to demand that the Cherish Act become law.

Also, we are gathering the signatures we need to get our MCAS ballot initiative on the 2024 ballot. This will take ALL of us! Petition sheets are in every regional office, and members have been finding an incredibly receptive audience.  The wider community is in agreement with educators: it’s past time to remove the high stakes from MCAS exams and end their use as a high-school graduation requirement.  Denying anyone a diploma based on one piece of criteria is both bad policy and unjust, which is why most other states have already dropped it.

Join your fellow educators in gathering signatures at political and community events on Sat. Sept. 23 and Sun. Sept. 24. Events are listed in this shared spreadsheet with the goal of having 2-3 people with clipboards at each event gathering signatures to end the MCAS graduation requirement. Email Paul from MTA Grassroots at pmcclory@massteacher.org if you can be at any of these events or if you know of something that should be added.

MTA Events and Solidarity Actions

Thrive Act Hearing
Join us at the State House on Wednesday, Oct. 4 to advocate for the passage of the Thrive Act, which would eliminate the graduation requirement tied to the MCAS as well as the receivership system.Sign up for the hearing and learn other ways you can take action in support of the Thrive Act.

Renewable Energy-Direct Pay
The federal government has long supported renewable energy projects with tax credits and tax subsidies – but such support implicitly excludes tax-exempt non-profits and government entities. In an exciting change, the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) now allows tax-exempt entities – including cities and schools – to take advantage of “Direct Pay” provisions to apply for cash subsidies for clean energy projects. Apply by clicking on this link today.

MTA Committees and Task Forces Spotlight
The Credentials and Ballot Committee is charged with supervision of MTA and NEA elections, handles registration of delegates at Annual Meeting and monitors campaign regulations. The Resolutions Committee receives and processes proposed new and updated resolutions and can make its own proposed changes for submission to the Board and ultimately to the Annual Meeting of Delegates. MTA’s Resolutions are the Association’s statements of principle on issues relating to members, public education, the welfare of students, and human and civil rights. Get involved today! We have several opportunities for members to be appointed to these and other committees and task forces. These groups are vital to our work and our mission. To volunteer for a possible appointment, view the list of committees and task forcesand apply to be considered.

Fall/Winter Bargaining Workshops
Registration is now open for MTA’s fall and winter bargaining workshops! Are you a member of your local’s bargaining team or contract action team? Are you a rank-and-file member who wants to learn more about negotiations and the democratic strategies that build our bargaining power? If so, please sign up for one of our fall and winter bargaining workshops. All MTA members are welcome to attend these workshops, which include online and in-person offerings. Specific sessions being taught this fall and winter include: Bargaining Foundations, Democratized Bargaining, Public Sector Bargaining Law, Contract Language Lab, Power Mapping, Health Insurance, Economics of Bargaining, and more! These classes count towards credit in MTA’s Bargaining Certificate Program. Learn moreand register.

2023-2024 NEA Conferences Participants Request
The MTA and NEA are now accepting applications for members to participate in next year’s NEA Conferences happening from January-July 2024. This is a great opportunity for members to immerse themselves in union education and engage with educators from across the country. You will have the opportunity to learn from renowned leaders, share stories with other members, and learn from one other. Both MTA and NEA provide funding for these conferences. Space is very limited. If you are interested in applying to one or more educational conference opportunities, please fill out this survey.

Disability Insurance
Important deadline for all new members! This year, all new members are eligible to enroll in disability insurance up to 60-days after their hire date. Disability insurance insures your paycheck by replacing a portion of your salary when you’re out of work due to an illness or injury. Short-term disability can fill the income gap when you can’t work, which is particularly valuable to new members who have few sick days. Short-term disability will also provide maternity benefits, but if you think you’ll need maternity coverage, don’t wait until you know you need it. By then, it’s too late. New members can get coverage now or wait until April 2024 for a last opportunity to enroll. Learn more today.

Student Loan Debt Forgiveness and Repayment Webinars
Student loan payments are set to resume in October and the deadline to receive retroactive credit for payments you’ve made toward loan forgiveness is quickly approaching.

If either of these topics affects you, or you’re looking for general information regarding a student or Parent PLUS loan, join one of MTA Benefits & Cambridge Credit Counseling’s informational webinars.

Student Debt: Confronting Our Crisis Event
The National Lawyers Guild at Suffolk University Law School and the American Constitution Society invite you to a panel event, “Student Debt: Confronting Our Crisis,” on Tuesday October 10th, at 6pm. This event will take place at Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St, Boston MA, in Room 425. Panelists will discuss the origins of the student debt and higher education affordability crises; current proposals to rectify these issues; the effect of these crises on students today; and what students and community members can do to help combat the issues going forward. Panelists will include: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07); State Representative Natalie Higgins (Worcester 4th); Massachusetts Teachers Association President, Max Page; in addition to policy advocates and students! Food and drink will be provided and CLE credit will be available for students. If you are interested in attending, please complete this form so we can track attendance for this event.

UAW On Strike
Our UAW brothers and sisters are on strike. Listen to UAW President Shawn Fain say what’s at stake in this fight. This leader is the real deal, naming the endless greed of the CEOs of the Big Three automakers and challenging us all to stand up for workers who deserve dignity and respect. Help support the UAW strikers, take action today.

National Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15. On the NEA website, you will find resources to help members and students engage in learning about Hispanic heritage.

Proposals for the NEA ESP Conference

Proposals for workshops for the NEA ESP Conference can be submitted through October 18.  So that we can coordinate proposals coming from MTA members, please be in touch with ESP Organizer Sonia Fortin (sfortin@massteacher.org) if you are considering submitting.

UMass Amherst Labor Center -- Fall 2023 Open House

The UMass Amherst Labor Center will be hosting an Open House on Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 5. Each Open House will give an overview of the on-campus Accelerated Residential 1.5 year Master's degree and the Union Leadership and Activism (ULA) limited residency 2.5-3 year Master's degree. A short presentation about the Master's in Labor Studies programs will be followed by time for your questions. More information about UMass ULA programs is available at: http://www.umass.edu/lrrc/.  Register to attend an Open House.

Political Education

Two new reports on the need for high-quality, debt-free public higher education came out in time for the Cherish Act hearing on Monday.

The Hildreth Institute shows how public college enrollment has declined, in part because of state disinvestment which pushed tuition and fees higher and out of the reach of many working-class students.  In other words, our enrollment “crisis” is one of our own making.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimates not only the cost of (reasonable, especially with Fair Share Amendment monies now available) but also the powerful impact of the Cherish Act to make public colleges more accessible. The greatest beneficiaries of passing our blueprint for public higher education would be working-class students and students of color.

As we have said many times: There is no racial or economic justice without access to debt-free public higher education.

In solidarity,

Max and Deb