Union News: Receivership in Holyoke nears end

Union News: Receivership in Holyoke nears end

holyoke educators


Late breaking news out of Holyoke: Our members in Holyoke are now on the path to winning back local control for their schools, ending a nine-year DESE receivership. We well remember the battle back in 2015, when the state decided to take over the district, and we warned that this punitive DESE takeover would not help our educators or students.

One of the main impacts of receivership – elimination of most collective bargaining rights and the end of a democratic school committee oversight – was to send so many of our members packing and departing to other districts where they could have the full benefits of union membership. In Holyoke as in other receivership districts – Southbridge (MTA members) and Lawrence (an AFT local) – there has been upwards of 40 percent turnover in educators every single year.  

That’s a tragic disservice to our students. But those members of the Holyoke Teachers Association and the Holyoke Paraeducators Association who stayed fought for the schools their students deserved. Our victories with the Student Opportunity Act, and more recently the Fair Share Amendment, have brought millions of dollars into Holyoke to provide the resources our schools need.

The return of local control is not going to be quick, nor easy, and we will have to be there to support our members in that struggle. In the meantime, let’s pass the Thrive Act so that we can eliminate the destructive receivership policy, and save future schools and school districts from what Holyoke has experienced. 

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions

Tell Your Legislators – Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

Take Action! Write to your state senator and representative and ask them to address a severe funding crisis facing our public schools related to how state aid is calculated. Chapter 70 aid amounts in the FY25 House 2 budget don’t account for the actual costs of recent inflation because of a flaw in the way inflation adjustments are calculated. 

Learn more about the issue and take action. 

Support Striking Boston University Graduate Workers

Around 3,500 BU graduate workers are currently on strike as they fight for fair wages and better working conditions. Since unionizing in late 2022, Boston University's graduate workers have been in negotiations since June 2023. Despite their efforts, management – using stalling tactics to significantly delay the bargaining process – has not only been slow in issuing counterproposals but has also rejected core proposals focused on establishing a fair living wage.

The BU educators on strike are fighting to pull themselves out of rent burden. If you are able to, join the BU graduate workers on the picket line. Here are locations and times for picketing. And, finally, please give what you can to the striking educators. All donations will go to the unionized BU graduate workers to cover their essential expenses and needs.

Give Input on the DESE Commissioner Search

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is starting the search for the new Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. We want to make sure the voices of educators are included as part of the process. What types of qualifications and experience should a commissioner have? What should their priorities be? Do you have ideas of people who would be good candidates? Please provide your input in the form here.

Important Student Loan Consolidation Deadline Approaching

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program isn't going anywhere, but a key benefit will end on April 30. Borrowers who have older loans issued through the Federal Family Education Loan Program have until April 30 to consolidate those loans and take advantage of a favorable calculation method that confers the payment count of the loan with the most payments on the resulting Direct Consolidation loan. For example, if you were to consolidate a loan with 110 payments with a loan that has just 30 payments, the resulting Direct Consolidation loan would be credited with 110 payments. If you consolidate after April 30, they'll use a weighted average of your loans which will give you a much lower payment count. And this doesn't just apply to FFEL loans, borrowers who've taken out federal Parent PLUS loans may also benefit significantly, especially if they also pursue the "double consolidation loophole" option. To find out more about your options and why April 30 is a red-letter day, we urge you to join one of MTA Benefits’ free webinars, which always feature live Q&A sessions. Register for an upcoming session today.

Wage Study Shows Pay Inequity in Mass. Higher Ed

A salary study conducted by ASA Research on behalf of the MTA found that, when adjusted for cost of living, faculty and staff wages at Massachusetts public colleges and universities are much lower than in virtually all public colleges and universities in nearby states and other peer institutions. In some cases, the wage gaps exceed $30,000. As wages fall below what is needed to meet this state’s high cost of living this not only harms those of us working in public higher education, but also harms the very institutions themselves as it becomes increasingly difficult to fill vacancies and attract the best-qualified job applicants. Consequently, student supports and academic programs are put at risk.  Read the wage study summary to learn more.

Professional Licensure Workshops

When: Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m.
Where: Virtual

Learn about the requirements to apply for and renew a Professional License, including how to collect evidence of your PDPs and how to handle a DESE audit. Learn more and register.

Political Education

You all know how hard you work, both in terms of the intensity and stress of the work while you are in your schools or college buildings, but also in the amount of work beyond the school day. Summer class and room preparation, weekend planning, grading, reading in your subjects, and on and on. Well, you aren’t alone. It is worth a reminder that Americans work far more than workers in other countries, to the detriment of our mental health and well-being.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the following:

“Today, American workers are more than 400 percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, despite this fact, millions of our people are working longer hours for lower wages. In fact, 28.5 million Americans now work over 60 hours a week, and more than half of full-time employees work more than 40 hours a week.

“The sad reality is, Americans work more hours than the people of most other wealthy nations. In 2022, U.S. workers logged 204 more hours a year than employees in Japan, 279 more hours than those in the United Kingdom and 470 more hours than those in Germany.Despite these long hours, the average worker in America makes almost $50 a week less than he or she did 50 years ago, after adjusting for inflation.”

Sanders and UAW President Shawn Fain have launched a proposal, one that was passed by the Senate in 1933 but unfortunately never enacted into law: a 30-hour work week.  A wild idea? Well, Belgium has instituted a four-day work week, and France, Norway and Denmark are exploring shortening the work week. Those who have experimented with it find people happier, healthier, more productive and less likely to move jobs.  

In solidarity,

Max and Deb