State news roundup for August 1, 2015

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Massachusetts – Bill would offer adjuncts some relief on college loans

MTAA bill before Congress would make adjunct faculty members eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which aims to reduce the burden of student debt for college graduates who take qualifying jobs in government and in the nonprofit sector.

“Adjunct faculty members are typically paid extremely low wages and rarely have access to benefits such as health insurance. The MTA welcomes any relief that can be provided to these educators who serve a vital role in the public higher education system,” said MTA president Barbara Madeloni.

The Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act of 2015, filed by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and currently before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, expands the definition of public-service employment.

Get the full story at MassTeacher.org.

New York – NYSUT applauds wage board decision

NY minimum wageNew York State United Teachers today said a wage board’s recommendation of a $15-an-hour minimum wage for fast food workers, to be implemented in stages, is an important step toward providing all workers — in all industries — with fair pay and a chance at the American Dream.

“We applaud the wage board for taking this important step to recognize the dignity of the work that fast food workers perform each day,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “If you work hard in this country, you should be able to feed your own family, pay your bills and be able to climb the economic ladder and attain the American Dream. The board’s recommendation, however, is only a first step. In many other industries — including education — full-time workers have a difficult time making ends meet. We must build on the wage board’s recommendations, and recent efforts to raise wages for tipped workers, and fix the economy for all New Yorkers.”

Magee said many school paraprofessionals — including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teachers’ aides and teaching assistants, to name a few — struggle to pay their bills and earn a living wage. “All those who work in our schools do important work. They, too, deserve fair compensation and respect on the job,” she said.

Visit NYSUT.org to read more.

Washington – Legislature fails to fully fund basic education, including class size and pay

WEA Pres Kim Mead
WEA President Kim Mead

Despite some improvements in state funding for K-12 public schools, Washington educators believe the Legislature is still failing to fully fund basic education as required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, including smaller class sizes at every grade level and professional, competitive pay and benefits for educators.

The Supreme Court is holding the Legislature in contempt over school funding, and the court has ordered the state to submit a report explaining its efforts to comply with the McCleary decision. The court may decide to sanction the state for failing to fund basic education.

Here’s the Sunday Seattle Times op-ed by WEA President Kim Mead:

“Washington Education Association members are dedicated to providing our students the quality education they deserve. As educators, that’s our duty.

The state Constitution says amply funding basic education is the Legislature’s duty…”

Read the complete op-ed by WEA president Kim Mead at OurVoiceWashington.org.

Montana – GABA victory for public employee retirees

mea logoAll persons – active and retired – enrolled in the Montana Public Employees’ Retirement System defined benefit pension plan who were hired to work for the state, local governments, and public schools any time before July 1, 2013 are guaranteed their annual benefit adjustment (GABA).

A pension with a guaranteed annual benefit adjustment is a promise Montana has made to its career employees – a promise we have reaffirmed in the 2013 legislature and in court.

That promise in PERS is now done. TRS next. Our union at work!

Get all the specifics at MEA-MFT.org.

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