MTA re-elects Page and McCarthy at Annual Meeting

MTA re-elects Page and McCarthy at Annual Meeting

mta annual meeting of delegates 2024

Max Page, the sitting president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and Deb McCarthy, the union’s current vice president, were re-elected Saturday to new, two-year terms at the 179th Annual Meeting of Delegates.

MTA Annual Meeting 2024
“Thanks to MTA members for the vote of confidence." – MTA President Max Page

For the second year, the MTA held its Annual Meeting at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. More than 1,000 delegates gathered to conduct the union’s business, electing the statewide officers, approving an operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and acting upon business items submitted by members. Page, an architecture professor at UMass Amherst, was first elected to the leadership position in 2022 after serving as vice president for four years. Before becoming vice president in 2022, McCarthy was a fifth-grade teacher in Hull for more than 25 years.

Following the election, Page thanked delegates for their support: “Thanks to MTA members for the vote of confidence, not only for me and Deb McCarthy, but more importantly for the victories we have won together and the direction our union continues to head in. The MTA is 179 years old and always growing, always in the process of becoming a visionary union fighting for the schools and colleges, and Commonwealth we all deserve. I’m so proud and humbled to be a part of it. Let’s keep moving forward and winning together.”

MTA Annual Meeting 2024
"I look forward to fighting like hell for everything we deserve." – MTA Vice President Deb McCarthy

McCarthy vowed to keep fighting, too. “I look forward to fighting like hell for everything we deserve,” she said.

Three awards were presented at the meeting.

The 2024 MTA Friend of Education Award was presented to Citizens for Public Schools. The nonprofit promotes and protects public schools and opposes political and social initiatives that endanger public education. It has worked closely with the MTA for years on shared priorities, and this year for adequate and effective state funding, and on a ballot initiative and legislative effort to replace the MCAS-based high school graduation test.

Dan French received the award on behalf of Citizens for Public Schools.

“Ultimately, who knows more about how students are faring?” French said. “It’s not the standardized test. It’s you folks, who work with them every day.”

The 2024 MTA Friend of Labor Award was presented to Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, who led the union in 2023 through a watershed moment in American labor. The union held concurrent strikes of the Detroit Three automakers at locations across the country. The six-week strike led to significant gains for autoworkers.

MTA Annual Meeting 2024
"The MTA has redefined what it means for unions to fight for the working class." – UAW President Shawn Fain

In a video statement, Fain said he was honored to receive the recognition. The MTA has redefined what it means for unions to fight for the working class, he said, citing its commitment to rank-and-file activism, which is “the heart and soul of organized labor.”

“The right to strike is a vital tool that every worker in this country, regardless of where they work, should have the right to use,” he said. “I was inspired by the educators in Newton and Andover, who voted to strike. They didn’t want to go on strike, but they had no choice.”

The President’s Award was bestowed upon Jane McAlevey, a labor organizer and writer who is well known for her books on unionization and organizing. The latest is “A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing and the Fight for Democracy.” McAlevey is a senior fellow at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center and writes as a correspondent on strikes for The Nation.

jane mcalevey
You’ve made the kind of change that every union in the nation needs to make,” – labor organizer and writer Jane McAlevey

In a video statement, McAlevey said she was delighted to receive the award, noting the MTA’s pivot toward being an activist union.

“There is no one more powerful than educators. You’ve made the kind of change that every union in the nation needs to make,” she said.

The delegates also recognized two outstanding educators working in Massachusetts.

De’Shawn Washington, the 2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, is a member of the Lexington Education Association. He is the first Black male recognized as the state’s Teacher of the Year and a graduate of UMass Boston. Washington received a standing ovation from the audience.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and to serve as an ambassador for public education,” he said. “My service begins and ends with amplifying your voice and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

MTA Annual Meeting 2024
2024 Teacher of the Year De'Shawn Washington

Washington said he was heading to Washington D.C. soon for a meeting of educators with First Lady Jill Biden. He planned to advocate for several union priorities, including the Thrive Act, which will remove the high-school graduation test that is tied to MCAS. “We’ve been calling for a living wage for a long time and we don’t have one yet,” he said. “We’re in dire need of having more educators, more career changers, coming into the greatest of all professions.”

Karen Torres was recognized as the MTA Education Support Professional of the Year. She is a member of the Andover Education Association. She, too, received a standing ovation from delegates in Springfield.

Torres said she was humbled by the award and said all ESPs should share in the honor. “I am extremely proud of our union work,” Torres said. “This is not done alone. It starts with your colleagues, your unit, and your local and the community. The ESP voice is starting to be heard. More importantly, through the power of collective action, our power is being felt together as we demand, not ask, for a living wage for all ESPs. We can do this together as colleagues, as unionists, as communities.”

MTA Annual Meeting 2024
ESP of the Year Karen Torres