towns and unions to defend the rights and interests of
all working people.”
In the case of Everett, that solidarity has
manifested itself in creative ways. Members of nearby
local associations were outraged when they learned
through social media about an incident outside the
Parlin School on Sept. 25. Kim Auger, president of
the Everett Teachers Association, had invited Najimy
and MTA Vice President Max Page to share coffee
and doughnuts with Parlin teachers on their way into
school. The idea was to give the beleaguered members
a chance to share their concerns with the union, and
for the union to show it has their backs.
Before long, three Everett police officers
arrived and told the union leaders that the school
administration had claimed they were picketing —
which was obviously false — and that they had to
disperse. Najimy posted the story on social media
and in short order, union leaders in Burlington
and elsewhere organized their own coffee-fueled
conversations with members and posted images
declaring their solidarity with Everett’s teachers.
While the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme
Court decision handed down on June 27 was a test
for public-sector unions, the Everett story is one
example of how the MTA has remained strong.
In the Janus case, the court upended a 41-year-
old precedent and ruled 5-4 that unions can no longer
charge nonmembers an agency fee to offset the costs
of bargaining and maintaining the contracts under
which they work.
Anticipating that ruling, the MTA and other
public-sector unions braced for the possibility that
a significant number of members — especially
newcomers — might be persuaded to save a few
dollars in dues by dropping their membership. MTA
administrative staff were trained in how to respond
to drop requests. But the deluge never arrived. As
of mid-October, only a handful of MTA’s 110,000
members had dropped their membership. It’s as if a
big storm was forecast and sandbags had been piled
high, but the storm blew out to sea.
The MTA is taking nothing for granted, however.
The All In experience has reinforced the philosophy
that members, local leaders and staff must have
ongoing conversations with one another about what
they want from their union and how to accomplish
During the school year, locals are building
on efforts begun over the summer by 84 summer
member-organizers working with preK- 12 locals and
another 18 with public higher education members.
Gary A. Maestas, a summer organizer and
middle school science teacher in New Bedford,
explained why he was drawn to the mission.
“Public employees, especially educators,
need unions,” he said. “The collective bargaining
agreement is central to our existence as educators.
It’s about so much more than how much we are paid.
It’s about how long you have to prepare for your
classes and how much time you are given to eat
“Our union is strong and getting stronger,” said
Page. “All of the conversations we’ve been having
in our locals have helped a lot. Even more, members
become committed when they take part in actions —
when they stand up for themselves and their students.”
The corporate interests behind the anti-union
efforts must be disappointed. They have spent
a small fortune sending propaganda to union
members in states across the country, including
One group behind this outreach is the Mackinac
Center in Michigan, a pro-privatization organization
that receives substantial funds from the family of
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The day after the Janus decision was handed
down, the Mackinac Center flooded the inboxes of
MTA members’ school e-mails. Many never reached
their targets because they were caught by district spam
Continued on next page
Supreme Court’s Janus decision. In the photo
above, MTA President Merrie Najimy spoke
to protesters outside an event held by the
anti-union Pioneer Institute on Sept. 24. In
the photo at left, a crowd gathered at the
Everett School Committee meeting on Oct. 1
to support the city’s teachers.
Photos by Jean Conley and Sarah Nathan
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