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Winter conference builds skills and bonds
A lunch break during the Union Skills Winter Conference provided educators with a chance to
network and share information. The event was held on Jan. 6 in Framingham.
Photo by Bob Duffy
H undreds of MTA members gathered recently for a conference devoted to union-building and professional development, generating
a wealth of ideas as they interacted with colleagues
and staff. Educators from preK through higher
education braved frigid temperatures to participate,
with most arriving as members of teams.
The inaugural Union Skills Winter Conference
was held on Jan. 6 at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel
and Conference Center. Conceived as a one-day
version of the MTA’s multi-day Summer Conference,
the event proved attractive to many educators who
have had difficulty attending the longer event.
“It was a lot easier to get our members here,”
said Katie Schmitt, treasurer of the Fitchburg
Schmitt connected with her colleagues working
in community colleges and state universities
for a discussion on Governor Charlie Baker’s
controversial plan to increase public high school and
“I was glad I went to the roundtable
conversation with K- 12 and higher ed members. It
was a great conversation and one that we need to
have more often,” she said.
Educators attended workshops on policy,
bargaining and maintenance of contracts, political
action, legal issues, communications skills and the
All In membership campaign, in addition to taking
part in professional development.
Members said the conference enabled them to
connect their work as educators to union activism.
David Beebe, a member of the Belmont Education
Association, was inspired to think of ways to
develop grassroots organizing to advocate for the
types of professional development that educators in
his district want.
The conversations he had also made him
consider how many of his colleagues interact with
their local association.
“For me, being in the union is simply the
thing that you do,” Beebe said. “But is that the same
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