Strategic Action News

Current Strategic Action News

Spring has sprung, and the stimulus monies promised to Massachusetts should arrive soon and bring relief to our struggling campuses and our Commonwealth. I know you are all busy with teaching, advising, and the multiple ways you serve our students, but please note the issues I have included here in this Strategic Action Committee (SAC) update. Please continue to speak out for the integrity of our community colleges and to safeguard the professional lives of all our MCCC members.

The Strategic Action Committee has a variety of activities and initiatives planned this spring. This email identifies current State House bills important to this union and some of our MTA colleagues. Note as well the upcoming meetings and events. Please stay informed and involved. The MCCC welcomes and needs your support.

In-district meetings: As easy as 1,2,3

* Recent discussions with some of you have shown that a few of you are planning campus breakfasts to connect multiple educators to their State Representatives (not Senators). If this works for you, all well and good, but know this was not the SAC request. But if educators will actually be talking with their own legislators, and such meetings can be set up with little effort or stress, then this is fine. Be sure to get a sense where individual representatives stand, though, in terms of their support for our colleges and how they plan to fund them when the stimulus monies run out. Group meetings can sometimes shield individuals from any true commitment.
* For those who want a more simplified approach: Ask three chapter leaders (or yourself and two others) to meet with their State Rep. at his/her local office or mutually convenient meeting spot. Then each leader can bring one or two other members from the same district to that meeting. This way the rep. isn’t inconvenienced, and there is no major planning involved. Fait accompli!
* Adopt whichever approach is simplest for you and your members. I am expecting only that a few members from each chapter will actually meet with 2 or 3 representatives from their section of the state. Remember to get back to me with feedback on these meetings in terms of your Representative’s support for reliable and adequate funding for our colleges and his/her positions on health insurance premium increases.

Legislative Update:
Below, I have identified bill numbers for current legislation of interest to our members. I have not summarized these bills, but will do so for the MCCC Delegate Assembly. A bill with an HB designation is a House Bill; those with an SB designation are Senate bills. Note, however, that some of the Senate bills only have docket numbers (SD). These cannot yet be looked up on the State’s General Court website. However, if you want to see any one of the other bills in its entirety, go to the appropriate link below:

For Senate Bills (SB) go to:
http://www.mass.gov/legis/billsrch.htm
For House Bills (HB), go to:
http://www.mass.gov/legis/hbillsrch.htm

* Creditable Service for Non-Public School Service: HB2342
* An Act to Clarify Creditable Service for Sabbatical Leaves: HB 2601
* An Act Relative to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for Retired Public employees of the Commonwealth: HB2487
* An Act Relative to the Optional Retirement Program: SB1173
* An Act Extending Creditable Service for Peace Corps Service: SD637
* An Act Relative to State Group Health Insurance (for adjunct faculty): SD1204
* An Act Pertaining to Collective Bargaining: HB2570

Note: The MCCC also re-filed a bill to support pro-rated pension benefits to certain part-time higher education faculty. This bill has not yet been numbered.

Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) Ad HOC COMMITTEE:
This committee will meet at the MCCC Office on Monday, April 6, from 4 to 7 pm. The agenda will include planning for a lobby day in support of the ORP bill listed above. This bill will provide currently enrolled ORP members a one-time opportunity to transfer to the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) and allow them to buyback years of creditable service.

Please contact me if you want more information about this committee or this bill. The MCCC will need the help of all interested parties if we are to get this bill enacted. The bill is expected to be heard before the Joint Committee on Public Service in June. Stay tuned for an update.

Strategic Action Committee (SAC) and the SAC Steering Team:

*SAC Committee members have been busy arranging for legislative call-in days and setting up in-district meetings with State Representatives – as discussed above.

*Brooks Smith has been talking with legislators weekly about campus funding, proposed health insurance increases, and stimulus fund support for our colleges. He and I have met with Committee Chairs and others to advocate for increased funding and share concerns over troubling hiring trends and the proposal to increase health insurance premium contributions for state employees. President LeBlanc has joined us at some of these meetings.

*Roberta Albano (STCC) and Jon Schaefer (MaCC) joined Joe LeBlanc and me in the distribution of MCCC letters to every State House Representative’s Office.

*STCC chapter leaders as well as Margaret Wong, Dale LaBonte and I have been attending PHENOM monthly meetings and/or worked directly with PHENOM’s leadership to sponsor campus-related activities and engage students.

*Mike D’Entremont has brought his students to the State House for a tour and met briefly with the Governor.

*A SAC spring meeting will be held on either April 13 or 16 – to be announced next week.

PHENOM: April 8th Rally and Lobby day
On April 8th, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts will hold a rally and lobby day at the State House. Please attend and encourage students to go as well. The events planned should bring attention to the need for increased funding to public higher education and the need to keep college affordable for students. The PHENOM lobby day theme is most appropriate: Now more than ever, invest in public higher education. For more information, go to the PHENOM website: http://www.phenomonline.org/

I thank you for your support for political action and for the many ways you strengthen our union with your chapter leadership and local membership participation. I look forward to seeing you at our Delegate Assembly on April 25. Together we can keep our colleges strong and our professional lives protected.

In solidarity,
Donnie

Diana (Donnie) McGee
MCCC Vice President & SAC Chair
Cell: 508.415.1513
Email: vice-president@mccc-union.org