F ast-forward to the end of 2018. The MTA is at the height of its power, voters have passed the Fair Share Amendment, high-stakes testing has
been beaten back in our schools, the Commonwealth
is moving toward free public college for every
student on a fully funded campus, and the “Fight for
$15” has been won. All this has been achieved even
though the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the
law allowing educators’ unions to collect agency
service fees, President Donald Trump has continued
his relentless assault on the public good, and the
right wing has been more active than ever.
Impossible? Hardly. It’s totally up to us.
Although the obstacles we face have never been
greater, I believe that the same holds true of the
opportunities within our reach.
Think back one year, to the 2016 Annual
Meeting of Delegates. The ballot initiative seeking
to recklessly expand
state dominated our
agenda. We faced a
array of political
foes as millions of
dollars flowed into the
groups that hid the
identity of their donors.
legislation was being
pushed hard on Beacon Hill, and the media chorus
was loud and getting louder.
But MTA members — joined by parents,
students, labor allies, community groups and
other supporters of the schools and colleges our
communities deserve — went all in. On Election
Night, the results of our principled and exhaustive
efforts were clear for all to see: Despite spending
some $26 million, enlisting Governor Charlie Baker
as their public face and buying television time as
far as the eye could see, the forces behind Question
2 lost in a landslide. Voters, many of whom had
been called or visited by MTA members and other
educators, showed that they cherish public education
by sending the proposal down to an ignominious
defeat. The final tally was 62 percent to 38 percent.
There is no denying that Trump’s victory over
MTA-recommended presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton was devastating. It will have consequences
for the foreseeable future. One of them will be the
loss of agency fees, which public-sector unions now
collect based on the services they provide to bargain
better wages and conditions for employees who do
not want to become members.
The recent swearing-in of Justice Neil Gorsuch
brings the Supreme Court bench back to full
strength. With numerous anti-labor cases in the
Annual Report of the Executive Director-Treasurer
pipeline, the MTA must examine itself in a new
light. Very soon, we will exist in a post-agency-fee
era even as we continue to face renewed efforts to
expand charter schools, as well as a campaign to use
vouchers and other forms of privatization that further
the attack on public education at all levels.
We cannot and will not underestimate the
dangers ahead. The good news, however, is that we
have been building for years to overcome them.
We were preparing for the loss of agency fee as a
result of earlier cases that had made their way to the
high court. And before the huge win on Question
2, members had mustered their energies to make
the MTA a major contributor to the Fair Share
Amendment signature drive as part of the Raise Up
So our organizing began long before Election
Day. And we have not let up since — far from it.
Indeed, the success of the No on 2 campaign has
ultimately turned many eyes toward Massachusetts.
That victory stood out on Nov. 8 as an example of
how grassroots activism can triumph over a flood
of out-of-state money and unions’ most aggressive
opponents even while a national debacle is taking
A s I spend time with MTA leaders, members and staff, my pride in what we accomplished together only deepens. I also understand
what we have gained during other campaigns we
have taken on — winning, losing or simply living to
fight another day. I know the extent of our members’
dedication to their students, our communities and our
In addition, I have a full view of the resources
that we possess in locals and chapters across the
state and in the organization as a whole. Focusing on
them gives me confidence that if we proceed on our
current course, we have a good chance of realizing
the vision we share for succeeding as a union while
ensuring that our students have the opportunities
they deserve as they progress from prekindergarten
to higher education.
Within MTA locals, our level of activity
continues to grow stronger. Members are talking to
members about why it is essential to belong to the
union. The staff in all divisions is working tirelessly
to help structure the organizing effort and ensure
that it encompasses every MTA educator. MTA
President Barbara Madeloni, MTA Vice President
Erik J. Champy and the Board of Directors are all
committed — and they are taking the long view of
how we need to manage our finances to thrive in a
world that will allow us to take nothing for granted
as we rapidly adapt to new realities.
Sometimes it takes looking back to see what
going forward can be. This is one of those moments.
We are approaching our 172nd Annual Meeting.
Our history of fighting on behalf of students,
public schools and colleges, organized labor and
democracy is long and distinguished. The advances
we have achieved through collective bargaining have
furthered worthy goals for our state and our society.
As I write today, the MTA is a key participant
in coalitions such as RUM and the Massachusetts
Education Justice Alliance. We have a legislative
package that speaks to and for the values we share
with the great majority of the residents of our state.
We are determined to stop the inappropriate use of
test scores, to win the battle for livable wages, to
improve conditions for all faculty and staff members
on public higher education campuses, to make sure
every worker has access to paid family and medical
leave, and to protect the retirement security of people
who have given their lives to public service. We will
do everything possible to see through the passage
of the Fair Share Amendment, which would raise
roughly $2 billion a year for public education and
transportation by adding four percentage points to
the state tax rate on annual income above $1 million.
The list goes on. The MTA offers unparalleled
field services and unmatched legal representation.
It allows members to participate in high-quality
conferences and events, provides outstanding
training opportunities, and communicates and
lobbies strongly in all forums. It facilitates phone
banking, canvassing, advertising and all of the other
actions that were so vital to defeating Question 2. It
is building on that crucial victory with its coalition
partners and is working with them to hold a Rally for
Public Education in Boston on May 20.
But by itself, that formulation is sorely lacking.
For the MTA is not just an entity. It is a composite
of its members. It is truly driven by you and depends
on you. Your strength, decisiveness, ingenuity and
collaboration with one another are the means through
which we can keep and expand the power we have
Today, those noble attributes must be joined by a
willingness to engage without hesitation. This is our
time, and the future will reflect what we are willing
to commit to right now.
A longer version of the Annual Report of the
Executive Director-Treasurer, including sections
on the work of each MTA division and department,
will be in the Delegate Handbook for the 2017
Annual Meeting. The full report is also posted in the
members’ area of the MTA website.
Sometimes it takes looking
back to see what going
forward can be. This is one
of those moments.