Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ABE Workers of MA, Unite! At Network!

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Find out about and join our union organizing efforts at Network, April 5th!

Do you want to improve working conditions and push back against mounting workload and requirements? MCAE is exploring becoming a statewide union representing all ABE staff, even if you already belong to another union. Come, tell us what you need, and JOIN THIS EFFORT!

Organizing Workshop at Network
Friday, April 5. Workshop Code: D-2 10:30 am –12.00 pm

Sign up now!

Come to an organizing meeting!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Are you disheartened about the working conditions in Adult Basic Education? Do you want to DO something about it?

Come to an organizing meeting and learn more about building a non-traditional union for ABE in Massachusetts!

  • Our next organizing committee meeting is Friday, June 29th at 10 a.m. at the Jamaica Plain Library, 12 Sedgewick St., JP 02130 (in the basement).

Can’t make the Friday meeting but still interested? Email Jana Pickard-Richardson ( suggesting a meeting time you would be able to make. We’ll try to hold more meeting at different days/times in the coming weeks.

Read up on what we’ve been doing so far:

Building an ABE union in Massachusetts: Yes We Can! (4/25/12)

Early Educators’ Union a Model for Adult Ed?  (4/13/12)

Can ABE Piggyback off Early Childhood Ed. Unionization? (12/1/11)

A Non-Traditional Union Victory

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Home-based early childhood educators have won a victory in their struggle for collective bargaining rights- the MA House has passed a bill that would grant them the right to “negotiate their payment rates from the state if they choose to join a union,” according to the State House News Service.

This is good news for Adult Basic Education, because the most promising model for organizing ourselves right now would be a similar non-traditional union model, the same model that the MECEU* is following.

Read more about the early childhood education victory here.

Do you want to see change in ABE? Do you want to do something to improve our working conditions?


*The bill just passed was NOT the MECEU bill, but is similar to it (it applies to home-based daycares whereas MECEU is fighting to unionize center-based daycares).

Do you love ABE? What do you want to change?

Friday, May 18th, 2012

As try to build a movement to work together to improve the conditions in adult education, we’d like to know YOUR story.

One Boston teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared her story* with us:

“I have been in the field for 6 years. I work 3 part-time jobs (totaling 32 hours/week; 18 teaching hours) to earn $27,000. My pay ranges from $18/hour (with 1:2 prep time) to $30/hour (with 1:6 prep time). I get paid sick time at my one unionized job, but nowhere do I get any vacation time or health benefits. I get no pay for school vacations or when programs are closed.

… I end up using my home as my office. Then I schlep my materials around from job to job.

…The straw that breaks the camel’s back is the increased workload – DOE requirements for more recordkeeping, lesson plans, etc. This all comes out of my prep time, which really means I don’t get paid for it. I had to fight to get some of this documentation time compensated.

…The long and short of it is that I’m being forced out of the field because I don’t make a living wage. …I love my work, but I just can’t afford it.”

Tell us your story.

Leave a comment at the end of this post.

  • Why do you do this work?
  • What would you like to change?
  • If we had a union, what would it look like when we’ve won?


Are you willing to be part of bringing about that change?

There are many ways to participate!

  • Come to an organizing meeting (next meeting: Friday, 5/25 in Jamaica Plain- see below for details)
  • Hold a meeting in your area
  • Talk to people you know in the field
  • Get on our mailing list

Next Organizing Committee Meeting

Friday, May 25th, 10 a.m.
Jamaica Plain Branch Library (in the basement)
12 Sedgewick St., Boston, 02130

Contact Jana Pickard-Richardson ( with questions or RSVPs.


Non-Traditional Union News

As we continue to talk to our colleagues about organizing the field of Adult Basic Education, there is some welcome good news coming out of other states where workers are organizing non-traditional unions.  Read about the recent win for the Missouri Home Care Workers.


*Read the teacher’s full story here.

Building an ABE union in Massachusetts: Yes We Can!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

We had a great meeting last Friday and are moving forward in trying to organize the field!

Where we stand right now, we are researching the best model for organizing our field. 


We need to know what our bargaining unit would look like. That is, we need to build a list of the names and contact information of everyone working in ABE programs.

You can help by:

Learning more about the steps to forming a non-traditional union by looking at the MECEU Candyland flyer. These steps would be the same for ABE as for Early Childhood educators.
Gathering the names and home contact information (e-mail, address and phone) of the people in your adult education program (whether or not they are currently interested in the union*). (Print this sheet and pass it around at your next staff meeting. Follow this link to enter your information!)
Talking to your coworkers about this non-traditional union and organizing effort. Share this informational flyer and MECEU Candyland.
Talking to your contacts at other ABE programs and getting them involved!
• Coming to the next Organizing Committee meeting: Friday, May 4 at 10 a.m. at the Jamaica Plain Library (12 Sedgewick St., Boston 02130)
• Organizing your own local meeting to discuss this unionizing model.
Read our previous posts on organizing the ABE field:
Early Educators’ Union a Model for Adult Ed? (4/13/12)
Can ABE Piggyback off Early Childhood Ed. Unionization? (12/1/11)


*We need to talk to people to find out their interest. Down the road, when we have a better idea of the size of our bargaining unit and are expanding our campaign, we will start signing union authorization cards giving our union the ability to bargain a contract for ABE workers.


Early Educators’ Union a Model for Adult Ed?

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Early childhood educators in Massachusetts are organizing a radical new kind of union. The MECEU (Mass. Early Childhood Educators Union) would bargain directly with the Commonwealth, rather than with each individual employer. Our field of ABE has a similar profile: hundreds of programs, some private, some based at community-based organizations, many with only a handful of employees. Could we look to the early educators’ union as a model for organizing adult educators?

How would it work?

  • Early childhood educators under the MECEU would bargain directly with the Commonwealth rather than individual employers.
  • In early education, directors are also teachers, so directors would be included in the bargaining unit.
  • Since this is so different from a traditional union, MECEU is seeking legislation to allow this new structure.*
  • (more…)

Don’t Miss the Unionizing Workshops at Network

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The winds of change are blowing in ABE! An exciting new unionizing effort is going on among early childcare workers, with a new model that could make organizing ABE, with its many small workplaces and part-time workers, easier! (more…)

Can ABE Piggyback off Early Childhood Ed. Unionization?

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

MTA and AFT Investing in Organizing Early Childhood Educators-Can We Make ABE the Next?

As you may have heard, two unions (the MTA and AFT) are putting resources into organizing early childhood educators (see Globe article, 10/10/11).

While there are ways these workers are different from us (they usually work full time, work on state contracts rather than state grants, etc.), there are probably more ways that we are alike (marginalized, small numbers at each site, pay is pitted against numbers served, etc.).

MCAE is planning to connect with an organizer from the campaign to create a statewide union for early childhood care workers.

We’d like to get some questions answered, including:

  • How did this effort start?
  • What made the unions decide to invest in this?
  • What happens to those workers who are already unionized?
  • Does it matter that our field is mostly part-time?
  • Do you have other questions that you’d like asked?

    Post your comments below!

    Read more:

    The Advocate, the newspaper of the Mass AFT, featured a terrific article about the MECEU on the front page.

    Visit the website of the Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Union to learn more about the campaign to organize workers and improve program quality.

    The Literacy Project’s Journey to Unionization

    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

    A Western Massachusetts program chooses to organize.

    Part of our series of articles about unionized adult education programs in Massachusetts.


    The Literacy Project, a community-based organization comprised of about 20 staff working at nine sites in Western Mass., has been a unionized program for the past decade. Workers organized there after a newly-hired director transformed their democratically run, supportive workplace into a strict hierarchy, where information was not shared and long-term staff were written up for asking questions.

    After a series of unsuccessful efforts to meet with the director, staff began talking to various unions about organizing and also went to their Board of Directors to express both their concerns and their interest in unionizing. The Board supported their efforts to unionize and eventually the director left.


    Thursday, April 28th, 2011

    How can we get more respect for ABE?

    by Wendy Mongeau*

    During my sixth year of elementary school teaching, I took a part-time evening job teaching adult ESL. …The ESL job opened my eyes to a realm of the education world that I had never known.

    It seems to me … that ABE teachers are viewed in a different light from K-12 teachers. … (more…)