Welcome back to another school year! Whether you work in the Quincy Public Schools or Quincy College, summer never seems quite long enough. But here we are once again at the threshold of a new school year, refreshed and re-energized with our hopes and plans for the coming months. As a classroom teacher, I always found this time of year to be filled with a mixed sense of both sadness at reaching the end of the long days of summer, but also hopeful anticipation for what lies ahead. I hope you all have had some time to relax, refresh, and renew yourselves this summer!
Proud to be QEA
Many of you know that I taught at the Montclair School for 18 years before serving in my current role as QEA President. One day in 1992 I was called to sub for a teacher who had gone home sick. The day turned into a year, and I was hired permanently the following September.
We were fortunate back then to have a number of seasoned veterans in the building who were involved, strong advocates of union membership. These educators mentored the newer teachers and instilled in us a deep understanding of our rights and benefits under the contract, as well as an appreciation for the gains made through the collective action of our predecessors.
Over time, and especially through my work as a local President, my appreciation for the folks who came before us has only deepened. QEA has four units with strong contracts that provide our members with excellent salaries, rights, and benefits. And we are constantly seeking to gain further improvements with each successive contract.
Our history is impressive. The Quincy Teachers Association was created 106 years ago. QTA later became QEA and successfully weathered strikes in 1972, 1985, and again in 2007. Since 1912 we have protected jobs, advocated for public education, pushed for improved benefits and salaries, and continue to serve as a valued, respected stakeholder in public education in Quincy. We are the only local in Massachusetts representing members at both preK-12 and higher education levels.
We belong to a strong association of colleagues with a long history of advocacy and involvement in public education in the city of Quincy as well as a commitment to improving salaries, benefits, and working conditions for our city’s educators.
QEA is more than a single person. QEA is all of us, together, and we can all be proud to be QEA!
Our Legacy — Paying it Forward
As most teachers were leaving for the summer in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v AFSCME that mandatory agency fees in public sector unions are unconstitutional.
We have 100% membership in QEA at this time, and no agency fee payers, so what is the impact of this ruling for us and the future of QEA? We are fortunate in Quincy to work in a community with long histories and strong ties to labor unions. Our teachers, firefighters, police, custodians, paraprofessionals, library workers, and our many other city employees recognize the inherent power of collective action and the value and benefits of membership in a strong union.
Desperate to weaken us, interest groups outside of Quincy are now attempting to use the Janus ruling to break apart QEA and all other public sector unions. You may not have noticed at the time, but on the day of the Janus ruling you received an email from an organization urging you to ‘opt out’ of union membership. This was the first, but it will not be the last, attempt by outside organizations with hidden and not-so-hidden agendas to weaken us.
To date I have not received a single notice from a member wishing to leave QEA. I know of no other public sector union in Quincy losing members due to the Janus ruling. The reason is simple. Quincy public sector workers value union membership, and no matter what your politics, our members know the union is here to help all employees obtain better wages, benefits, and working conditions and to help advocate for public education, our students and their families.
This is our time to decide what our legacy will be. This is our opportunity to thank the ones who came before us by keeping QEA strong and viable, and paying it forward for the next generation of educators.
QEA educators who came before us understood the power of collective bargaining, and whether it’s health insurance, salaries, sick leave, prep time, seniority rights, and many many more, QEA was here for them, and has been here for all of us, and now it’s our turn to leave a legacy of solidarity and collective strength for the next generation.
I wish you all the very best for a wonderful, successful school year! ~ Allison G. Cox
Some of your QEA contractual rights and benefits won through collective bargaining over the years:
Salary increases, including Step and Level raises
30-minute duty-free lunch
Work hours and 182-day work year
Extended sick leave
Extended leave language
Educator evaluation language
Reduction in force language
Quincy College Update
As many of you know, Quincy College Nursing programs were shut down by the Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN) in early May. This led to a series of events including the Board of Governors approval in June of Mayor Koch as interim leader of the college.
In large part due to the Nursing programs shutdown, the college is facing budgetary challenges for this 2018-2019 academic year. We are pleased the Mayor has agreed to retain all 7 remaining Nursing faculty members who will be working on rebuilding the programs this year. We have two contracts which expired this summer: Units D & E. Mayor Koch has asked for one-year contracts with a wage freeze for both units. QEA continues to negotiate both contracts, seeking offsets for the wage freeze concession. More information to come; members please seek out your bargaining team chairs for more information. Unit D: Deb Panasuk; Unit E: Heather Keen.
Issues and Reminders
Prep time is your time! Please note that a number of concerns were raised last year around the use of prep time. QEA was able to resolve all of these concerns successfully because the contract language is crystal clear (Article VIA): “The use of preparation and planning time shall be determined by the individual teacher.”
Elementary prep time — 1st, 3rd, 5th Tuesday afternoons are YOURS! Elementary teachers, please reach out to your Building Reps or contact Allison Cox if any mandatory meetings are scheduled for these afternoons.
Educator Evaluation: Please contact QEA if you have concerns about your evaluation. QEA and QPS have contract language (quincy.massteacher.org) that covers most aspects of your evaluation. QEA has been very successful in resolving evaluation concerns, so please contact QEA with any questions.
FERPA: You will all receive FERPA information at your building meetings on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Please note that we have seen an uptick in FERPA issues over the past few years which have led to disciplinary situations. As professional educators, we have a duty to closely safeguard student information. Casual conversations with colleagues in the lunch room, for example, can sometimes lead to disclosures of information covered by FERPA— please consider your students’ educational privacy rights carefully. Any questions please contact QEA.
Health insurance: The City of Quincy successfully moved to Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, effective July 1. There were some small glitches, but for the most part the transition went remarkably smoothly. A huge thank you to Patty McGowan and her team at City Hall. We are now in the 1st year of a 6-year deal. Details can be found at quincy.massteacher.org.
QEA Building Reps
Please take a moment to introduce yourself and say hello to the QEA Building Reps in your building! Most of our current building reps have been doing this work for a number of years, and by now have considerable knowledge of the contract, current issues, and resources, as well as the skills to help you navigate concerns at the building level. All of your building reps also have direct and immediate access to QEA leadership in the event of any urgent and/or serious disciplinary issues.
Buildings are allowed 1 Rep for every 15 members as per QEA bylaws; if you believe your building may be underrepresented, please consider running for a building rep position.
A HUGE thank you to all 2018-2019 QEA Building Reps! First meeting of Rep Council will be Sept. 26 at 3:15 p.m. at Presidents Cafe in QHS.
A Note about Discipline and Conduct
As a professional educator and public employee, you are held to a higher standard of conduct both inside and outside of the workplace.
It’s important that you be mindful of maintaining appropriate boundaries with students at all times. Electronics have changed the way we communicate, but you should always be cognizant of boundaries when communicating with students. Please don’t text or share your cell phone or personal email address with students.
Conduct unbecoming is a broad term that could be applied in any number of situations, and it is a very serious charge that can lead to immediate and serious disciplinary action.
Please note that you are allowed to have union representation in any potential disciplinary meeting. If you are called into a meeting with a supervisor, you have the right to ask if the meeting could result in disciplinary action. If the answer is yes or maybe, please let your Principal or supervisor know you want your union rep to be present. In the event of a serious disciplinary matter, QEA Building Reps can reach me via text. Please contact me at quincyteachers.com if you have specific questions related to any disciplinary matter. ~ Allison Cox
Have Questions about Retirement?
Come to a Retirement Workshop!
with Harold Crowley of MTA
When: Monday, Nov. 5; 3-4:30 p.m.
Where: QHS Auditorium
Flyers and sign-up information will be sent out to all buildings soon!
QEA Executive Board 2018-2019
Allison G. Cox, President
Michael Ellis, Vice President
Sean Greene, Treasurer
Nicole Prevost, Membership Chair
Gayle Carvalho, PR&R Chair
Michelle Perfetuo, Elementary Rep
Peg McDonough, Middle School Rep
Rose Bell, High School Rep
Scott Perfetuo, Assistant Principal Rep
Debbie Cerone, Nurses Rep
Deb Panasuk, QC Unit D Rep
Heather Keen, QC Unit E Rep
Please follow QEA on Twitter @QuincyTeachers and on Facebook as Quincy Education Association, Inc. QEA President Allison G. Cox can be reached at email@example.com