Union News: Standing Strong with Springfield

Union News: Standing Strong with Springfield

springfield teachers unionGreetings,

We hope you all had a good Memorial Day weekend.  

Part of our weekend was spent reading Peter Linebaugh’s “The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day,” which reminds us – or lets us know, for those of us who did not know – that the first maypole on this continent was erected just a mile or two from the MTA offices, in the Merrymount section of Quincy, on the unceded land of the Wampanoag people.

It was there that Thomas Morton kept alive an English tradition of spring revelry, a celebration of nature and the commons, much to the fury of the Puritan leadership of the colony. It was also to Merrymount that Anne Hutchinson, who preached and challenged the men of Puritan orthodoxy, fled from Boston in 1638, eventually taking her family to the colony that would become New York. 

All this to say that as we approach the 400th anniversary (in 1627) of that maypole standing over Quincy Harbor, we should plan next year to mark May Day there, as it is a day “about affirmation,” writes Linebaugh, “the love of life, and the start of spring” but also the “denunciation of capitalism, of patriarchy, of homophobia, of white supremacy, of war.”  

We got the week off to an inspiring start, showing up for the Springfield Education Association – one of our largest preK-12 locals – and supporting the members in their negotiations. We were there, joined by 70 members serving as silent representatives, observing bargaining and contributing to discussion about proposals during caucuses. SEA is leading the most powerful, democratic bargaining campaign in its history. This was the last scheduled session until September. When bargaining resumes, we'll call on members from across the “413” to show up in support of our educators fighting for the schools they and their students deserve. 

MTA Events, Opportunities and Solidarity Actions

Full-Service Community Schools Summit
When: Saturday, June 8, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Boston Teachers Union, 180 Mount Vernon St., Boston

At this summit, you will learn about the Full-Service Community Schools strategy, which is based on local knowledge, creativity and community resources, and which promotes equity, democracy and justice. Learn more & register here.

Join North Shore Educators in Salem for BBQ & Music this Friday!

The North Shore Educators United coalition – composed of 5,000 MTA and AFT-Massachusetts members – is holding a Summer Solidarity Send-Off on Friday, May 31. While this is mostly aimed at our North Shore members, educators will be sharing their stories about the schools that students and staff deserve when everyone returns in the fall. You must RSVP so that organizers can order the right amount of food.

Call for Nominations to Fill a Vacancy – NEA Director Seat 

One of MTA’s seats on the NEA Board of Directors has become vacant. As there are presently no Alternate Directors eligible for appointment, per the MTA Bylaws, the vacancy shall be filled by vote of the MTA Board of Directors. Any active (employed) member who has been a member for at least two years is eligible for election to this seat. The member elected by the board to fill this vacancy will serve upon election until August 31, 2025. 

To self-nominate, please fill out this online form. The nomination deadline is June 11 at 5 p.m. 

Candidates will have the opportunity to make a presentation to the Board of Directors at its next meeting on Saturday, June 15. Candidates may also submit a biographical statement for distribution to the board at or prior to that meeting. 

Passing of Bob Whalen

We are very sorry to note the passing of Bob Whalen, MTA field rep organizer, who died suddenly this past week. Bob worked at the MTA for 29 years, initially in the legal division, then for many years as a higher ed field rep organizer, mainly based at the UMass Amherst campus. For the last few years, he was the Retired and Student Member Organizer.

Critical Student Loan Consolidation Deadline Extended to June 30

Federal student loan borrowers have a little more time to consolidate their loans and qualify for forgiveness under the payment count adjustment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. It is important to note that even if a borrower has not reached the number of payments necessary by the June 30 deadline, they should still consolidate and apply for the adjustment.

If you’re unsure what this means for you, MTA Benefits and Cambridge Credit Counseling will host two webinars in June to answer all of your questions. Register now. Additionally, you may contact Martin Lynch at Cambridge Credit Counseling directly for free counseling for MTA members at 413.883.3390, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. 

Before calling, Lynch asks that you visit studentaid.gov to determine whether your loans were issued through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

What Educators Need to Know About New Title IX Rules

The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Education, recently released important new regulations governing the responsibilities of schools to investigate, address and remedy sex-based discrimination in education, including discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The new rule goes into effect on Aug. 1, so that school districts can put in place new policies and procedures for the beginning of the 2024-25 school year. Read more here

Please join the NEA for a discussion about these new rules with Sarah Warbelow, vice president, legal, for The Human Rights Campaign, and Keira McNett, NEA staff counsel, on Thursday, June 6, from 4 to 5 p.m. by registering here.

Update on Senate Budget

The state Senate passed its FY25 budget after several days of debate. Dozens of budget amendments were adopted during this process, including several MTA-backed proposals related to public education. Read more about what's in the budget along with related resources.

Political Education 

We are part of the Climate Jobs Massachusetts board, which was created by AFL-CIO to advocate for a just transition to a greener future. It is worth reading this report, written with Cornell University researchers. You’ll see that a top priority – captured in a bill currently before the Legislature – is to build a Healthy and Sustainable Schools Office and prioritize audits and energy retrofits on our public school, college and university buildings. 

We’d also urge you to listen to the “Have You Heard" podcast, co-hosted by MTA member Jack Schneider. This past week the hosts interviewed Jonathan Gyurko about his new book, “Publicization: How Public and Private Interests Can Reinvent Education for the Common Good.” 

In solidarity,

Max and Deb