One year, while attending the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP) General Membership luncheon, an elderly faculty member joked to me drily that he was there for his $700 lunch — implying that the luncheon was the only benefit he received for his annual dues. Of course, this year, a full-time faculty member will pay ~$900/year in union dues to belong to the MSP.
In point of fact, more than half of the membership fee ($486) is actually the dues for the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA). You might well wonder what you're spending all that money for and question its value. If so, I invite you attend the MTA Annual Meeting (May 10-11 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston) to find out what it buys.
The MTA fights for public education. They are opposed by well-funded and well-organized lobbying groups that have been working for a generation to defund state government; to undermine and destroy public education; and to roll back benefits to state workers -- your benefits. The MTA has been on the front lines trying to defend education: to stop ballot initiatives that would eliminate the state income tax or tie teacher evaluations to high-stakes testing. And this is a special year to attend…
This year, Barbara Madeloni, a UMass Amherst faculty member, is running for MTA President. She has been at the forefront resisting the privatization of public education. She is pushing for the MTA to shift from fighting a rearguard action to limit losses, and to articulate a vision of public education based on values of social justice and democracy -- a vision that respects the expertise and dignity of teachers.
Part of your MSP dues go to support a team of delegates to the MTA Annual Meeting. If you go, the MSP will pay for your hotel room and buy you a nice dinner out. And in return, you have an opportunity to see the budget of the MTA and to account for every nickel of your dues to them.
No-one who attends the MTA Annual Meeting is unmoved by the experience. If you believe in the mission of public education -- and the role of public higher education in that mission -- you owe it to yourself to see what you're a part of. And learn what you can do to help win the fight.
(Written for the MSP Chronicle)