President's Column

Why MTA Matters

For many MCCC members, “the union” means the local MCCC chapter (15 community colleges) and maybe even the statewide MCCC Board of Directors (21 voting members). The MCCC has over 7,000 members that include full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty and professional staff.

But “the union” is also the state organization, the 116,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and the 50-state National Education Association (NEA). “The union” is us, the members. The members have a voice once each year at the MCCC Delegate Assembly, at the MTA Annual Meeting, and at the NEA Representative Assembly to shape our unions’ direction. We are the ones who decide what “the union” will and won’t do if we step up to exercise our rights.

Specifically, a ballot and online voting instructions (user name and user ID) will be going out by March 1 to all MCCC members and the election will close on March 24….a very short window. Be alert! The ballot will include five (5) candidates for two at-large Director seats on the MCCC Board of Directors, candidate delegates to the MTA Annual meeting on May 19-20 in Boston, and candidate delegates to the NEA RA in Boston on June 30-July 5.

When the ballot goes out to elect MCCC delegates to Annual Meeting, those 61 members who submitted nominations by 4 p.m. February 9 will be automatically elected, but there will be another potential 38 seats that will go to the candidates who get the most write-in votes since MCCC is entitled to approximately 99 delegates to the MTA Annual Meeting. I encourage you to run and write your name in on the ballot to be a delegate.

MTA’s Annual Meeting is a wonderful event, the most democratic part of the MTA, and the one involving the most members. Last year about 1,500 delegates attended the MTA Annual Meeting, including almost 100 from MCCC. It’s the largest gathering of educators in the state and provides the opportunity to shape our union’s (and our state’s) policies.

If you are elected as an MCCC delegate to MTA’s Annual Meeting, your (double occupancy) hotel room will be paid for if you live more than 25 miles from Boston; and wherever you live, you will receive a $50 per day stipend

Annual Meeting considers all sorts of issues and is an amazingly democratic process. Any member may speak to the issues presented (for three minutes) and even propose new business items (NBIs). It’s too early to know what issues will come up this year, but it’s likely there will be NBIs about a range of issues, from supporting immigrant, Muslim, GLBT and other targeted groups of students, to opposing efforts to privatize education, to protecting funding for domestic spending, to divest from fossil fuels, etc.

Members will also adopt a budget for the MTA, which determines the dues level for the coming year. That often leads to sharp debates with motions made to add expenditures for one or another cause or to cut one or another expenditure in order to avoid a dues increase.

On Saturday, May 20, from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. elections for open MTA Board and MTA Executive Committee seats will take place. The MTA Board of Directors (like the MCCC Board of Directors) govern the union between annual meetings of delegates, so these positions are extremely important.

There is also a Higher Education Caucus group that meets on Saturday from about 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. to discuss issues of importance to higher education members.

In the next month, not only will we be voting on which of us will represent MCCC at the state level, we will also be voting who will represent us at the national level. The National Education Association (NEA) has an almost weeklong meeting (called the Representative Assembly, or NEA-RA) where 8,000 members from around the country assemble for almost a week. The process and the issues are similar to the MTA’s Annual Meeting, except on a larger scale. This year’s NEA RA is June 30 – July 5 and will be held in Boston! The same ballot you use to elect MCCC delegates to MTA’s Annual Meeting will enable you to vote on delegates to represent you at the NEA-RA. MCCC’s delegate entitlement to NEA RA is about 33 members. At the close of nominations on February 9, 31 MCCC members had submitted their names as candidate delegates. The top 20 vote getters will receive a stipend from MCCC of $400 in addition to the stipend of $400 given by MTA to offset expenses for travel, hotel, meals, etc.

The state and national levels of our union may seem remote; but if you become a delegate to these meetings, you will meet fellow-educators from around the state and the nation, will see that the issues in your chapter are similar to the issues educators face elsewhere, and will be able to shape our response to compelling state and national events. I urge you to run, to become a delegate, to represent your fellow members, and to make connections with other educators. It’s energizing and uplifting


In Solidarity

Diana Yohe, MCCC President