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I have struggled with how to begin this editorial. This moment in our history is fraught with anxiety, fear and uncertainty.
Our challenges and threats range from the
resurgent boldness of racist violence to the realities
of climate disruption to the unrelenting attacks on
immigrants to the everyday experiences of educators
given fewer resources and ever-increasing pressure
to perform tasks that
contradict the goals of
public education. And this
is all taking place within
the context of an ongoing
effort to destroy unions.
Yet in the midst of
this assault on public
working people and our
communities, there are
remarkable moments of
light and hope.
We saw them in
Boston when 40,000
people marched to say no to white supremacists. We
saw them when working people gathered on Labor
Day to stand strong for union power and the fight for
a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
We see them in stories of educators organizing
to push back against bullying leadership, connecting
with parents to fight the madness of high-stakes
testing, and reaching out to give support to students
and families who are fearful of deportation. We see
them every day when you go to work and create
learning communities in which each student has an
opportunity to thrive — when you do this in spite of
the mandates that attempt to stifle the deeply human
relational work of teaching and learning.
In the midst of the outrageous efforts to tear
down our schools and our communities, I find myself
hopeful because I see working people reaching out to
each other, organizing and reclaiming our voices. It
is here — in building connections, trust, union power
and alliances — that we will win a better world.
How do we do this?
Many of you are already engaged in this work.
You’ve reached out to each other in your buildings
and at other worksites to talk about the issues that
matter most to you and your students, to understand
what is happening, and to develop plans to act
together to make vital changes.
T he MTA understands that we need to support these efforts more directly and intentionally — and give every member the resources
and opportunities to build local union solidarity
and power. That is why the Board voted over the
summer to fund the All In campaign: to reach every
member, talk about our issues, and organize to
reclaim our schools, our colleges, our voices and our
The campaign will identify several member
leaders in each building and help them develop the
skills needed to establish relationships with groups
of up to 20 other members through one-to-one
conversations, as well as small meetings and other
types of gatherings.
Through these contacts, members will be
encouraged to talk about their work lives, share
concerns and ideas for solving problems, and act
collectively to resolve issues. This might mean
organizing around a contract campaign, or it might
mean establishing a committee for member-designed
and member-led professional development, or it
might mean asserting your rights against oppressive
management, or it might mean organizing with parents
and students for the schools our communities deserve.
The point is this: We will be supporting
members as you build trust, establish goals, and use
union power to claim our vision for public schools,
colleges and other worksites.
Our power as workers is in our ability to join
together around shared concerns, build trust, and use
concerted activity to demand a better world.
The forces coming at us — from dehumanizing
accountability regimes, state takeovers and
“personalized learning systems” to coldhearted
austerity budgets and attacks on human dignity and
civil rights — are intense. But we know from our
work, from our union activities, and from our personal
experiences that our power is in and with each other.
The All In campaign commits MTA resources
to grassroots building-by-building support for the
connections that allow us to experience our power
and strengthen our resolve.
A s we move forward with All In, the MTA will be working with our coalition partners in Raise Up Massachusetts to collect signatures
to put paid family and medical leave and the $15
minimum wage on the ballot in November 2018.
These efforts, which will benefit students and their
families as well as educators, will further extend our
networks of connection, trust and commitment.
A phrase that I and others often use is “fighting
is winning.” Sometimes I worry that people read
that as meaning we will win every fight. While we
have won some great fights, we will not win every
But in such treacherous times, fighting arm in
arm — in trusting relationships across positions and
experiences, with integrity and commitment to the
greater good — is itself a win. Our commitment to
each other and to something bigger than ourselves
becomes a victory.
I hope you will join the All In campaign and
commit to fighting for the schools, colleges and
communities we deserve.
Fight continues for adequate education funding
By Laura Barrett
T he MTA is continuing to push for bills that support public schools and colleges and improve conditions for working families
and public-sector retirees, even though state budget
allocations for the new fiscal year have fallen short
of the association’s desired goals.
“When it comes to providing students with
the schools and colleges our communities deserve,
the fight continues,” said MTA President Barbara
Madeloni. “Our legislative team can’t secure that
goal alone. The team needs strong support from an
The most promising development this year has
been the Legislature’s overwhelming approval of
the Fair Share Amendment for the 2018 ballot. Final
approval was given on June 14, when legislators
voted 134-55 in a second Constitutional Convention
to move the proposal to the ballot.
The proposed constitutional amendment, backed
by the MTA and other members of the Raise Up
Massachusetts coalition, would increase taxes by 4
percentage points on annual income over $1 million.
The funds generated, nearly $2 billion a year, would
be allocated to public education — including higher
education — and transportation.
A significant challenge, however, is a plan
by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts
to pursue one of four potential ballot initiatives
that would lower the state’s sales tax, currently
6. 25 percent. One would cut it to 4.5 percent and
a second would cut it to 5 percent. The third and
fourth measures would include those reductions
while also instituting a permanent two-day state
sales tax holiday each August.
Cuts of this magnitude would offset nearly
all of the increased revenue from the Fair Share
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