A fter we concluded our Annual Meeting last May, the delegates and other MTA members marched along Boylston Street to Boston
Common, where they joined thousands of other
advocates at a Rally for Public Education.
The event served as a fitting kickoff for yet
another year of activism on behalf of our students,
our schools, our colleges and our communities.
Since then, MTA members have worked
with coalition partners to advance the Fair Share
Amendment and other elements of the Raise Up
Massachusetts agenda, spoken out for immigrants,
pursued ambitious legislation on Beacon Hill,
campaigned to end high-stakes testing, and fought
the despicable policies of President Donald Trump
and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
They have worked
within their locals and
chapters to gain fair
contracts, and they have
joined their students in
demanding an end to
gun violence. And they
stepped up to take
ownership of the All
In effort, which will
ensure that our union
keeps and builds its
power even after the
U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in Janus v. AFSCME,
ends the existence of agency fees.
There is no doubt that the degree to which MTA
members continue to be willing to take action will
determine our future. But I have every reason to feel
assured that we will prevail, even given the profound
challenges we face as an organization. We have done
so many times since the MTA was founded in 1845
— and we will do so many times in the future.
O n a recent afternoon, I was thinking about the day two years ago when I wrote my report to the members in advance of our 2016 Annual
Meeting. At the time, we were preparing to battle the
ballot initiative that later became Question 2, which
sought the uncontrolled expansion of privately run
charter schools throughout the Commonwealth. We
were accurate in predicting that many millions of
dollars would pour in to support this ill-conceived
effort, and we were far from sure of the result.
As it turned out, our members rallied to defeat
Question 2, knocking on doors, making phone calls
and working with others in the Save Our Public
Schools coalition to ensure that our message would
be conveyed with strength and clarity. Our spending
on ads could not match the amount assembled by the
pro-charter forces, but our overall campaign easily
did. As all of you know, the effort to pass Question 2
collapsed and we won in a landslide.
That story means a lot to me — and it says a
great deal about where we find ourselves today.
Monumental challenges bring out different
responses in different organizations, as do proactive
efforts to advance the public good. Within the MTA,
they have always inspired a fighting spirit and the
will to win. That spirit is crucial to our past, and
if we maintain it, it will determine our role in the
We will be right where we want to be: standing
with our students, our colleagues and the rest of
Massachusetts in ensuring the existence of the public
schools, colleges and universities our communities
deserve. On every front, we will continue to advance
the social and economic interests of all workers,
including the thousands of education support
professionals and adjunct faculty members who
belong to the MTA. Our state will guarantee the fair
treatment of every employee, beginning with the
rapid enactment of paid family and medical leave
and a $15 minimum wage. And we will not let up
until racial justice prevails in every city, town and
school district in the state.
If the Supreme Judicial Court rules wisely
and we are able to see the Fair Share Amendment
campaign through, funding for public education at
all levels will be enshrined in the Massachusetts
Constitution; if not, we will find another path to win
the resources that our students need for success.
All that may sound like a lot to hope for, but it is
within our reach if we act with intention and refuse
to give up.
We proved during the Question 2 campaign that
MTA members are a power to be reckoned with. We
did it again more recently when we turned back the
Group Insurance Commission’s attempt to slash the
number of carriers that MTA members and others
had access to, thereby sharply limiting where and
how they could receive their health care.
In the current political context, we must prove
ourselves again and again. Moreover, we must
understand that there will be setbacks ahead as
there have been in years past. Politicians such as
Governor Charlie Baker will continue to starve
public education if they can. The right wing — in
its ascension as viciously as ever since Trump’s
election — will relentlessly pursue an agenda filled
with charter schools, vouchers, privatized colleges
and universities, unchecked corporate influence,
environmental degradation, reckless attacks on
immigrants, and opposition to commonsense gun
So this question stands out: Are we prepared to
take on the battle for public education, which is at
the heart of our democracy?
To get to the answer, we need to muster our
resolve and look in the mirror, knowing that we
will be far from alone but will have to continue to
organize and build — day by day, month by month
and year by year — if we are to take back what
has been lost and prevail in winning the things that
have yet to be gained. We’ll need to collect more
signatures, make more phone calls, knock on more
doors and vote without fail.
T here is no doubt that the Janus decision and the many other challenges coming at us will be daunting. We face an aggressive campaign
to undermine our union, create doubt among our
members, and make free riding seem acceptable.
The good news is that we have worked long and
hard to prepare for the worst assault our attackers
can bring upon us. We are also gearing up for the
2018 election, and we are determined to do all we
can to support pro-public-education candidates and
progressive ballot questions.
As we convene for the MTA’s 173rd Annual
Meeting, we do so with a determined membership,
a highly effective staff in every division, and a
proposed budget that fits the difficult landscape
we have entered. We are organizing in locals
throughout the state, and the results of the All
In effort are beginning to get traction. We know
that when members talk to members, as they are
doing at every possible moment, their ties to the
union deepen. They are less susceptible to rancid
communications from the groups that are out to
destroy us, and they are committed to supporting
the member-driven organization articulated so
cogently in the Strategic Action Plan.
It is up to every MTA member — the Annual
Meeting delegates and the more than 110,000
educators who elected them and support them — to
help our union live up to its awesome potential. Our
past is filled with honorable achievements, and I take
great pride in believing that the list will only grow
longer in the days ahead.
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 2018
Annual Meeting. The full report is also posted in the
members’ area of the MTA website.
As we convene for the
MTA’s 173rd Annual
Meeting, we do so with a
a highly effective staff
in every division, and a
proposed budget that fits
the difficult landscape we