U.S. Supreme Court issues decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case.

posted Jun 28, 2018, 4:01 PM by GMHSLibrary

Dear Colleagues, 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case. As anticipated, the decision came down 5-4 against the interests of working men and women and for the Koch brothers and other corporate interests that bankrolled the case. Many of the same forces behind the Janus case were also behind the pro-charter Yes on Question 2 campaign in 2016.

What does this mean for us? 

First, by staying together, we will be stronger than ever. Tell your co-workers and friends that you are “sticking with the union” by posting a message on social media. Go here for social media materials, or take a photo of yourself and co-workers holding up a sign with the word UNION. Post photos on social media. If you have an All In button, please wear it.

Second, talk about the importance of our union. Remind people that our union supports: 

●        Our voice. Educators need a voice and real power to improve teaching and learning conditions at the local, state and national levels. Whether the issue is testing, funding, adjunct faculty pay, educator evaluation, a bullying administrator or a living wage for the parents of our students, our voices — on behalf of ourselves, our students and our communities — are louder when we speak through our union.

●        Our profession. The union supports the schools, colleges and universities our students and communities deserve. Together, we are stronger as we demand the professional autonomy and respect that educators and all workers deserve. We advocate for pro-student education policies at the local, state and national levels and provide professional learning opportunities to our members.

●        Our interests. The union gives employees the power to bargain collectively for fair pay, benefits, working conditions and due process rights. This is fundamental to attracting and retaining qualified educators at all levels. If members drop out of the union to save a few dollars, it will cost them much more down the road in lost wages, fewer benefits and deteriorating working conditions.

●        Our rights. Members defend their rights through organizing and with the support of the MTA’s field, legal, policy and communications services, as well as with access to a $1 million liability insurance policy.

For more details on the benefits of membership, go here. To register for MTA’s Summer Conference, where building union power and education funding will be key topics, go here. 

The Janus decision is an outrage that underscores just how polarized our country has become. The case was backed by special interests that have long sought to “defund and defang” public employee unions. But there are more of us than there are of them. When we stick together, we can beat back the corporate privatizers and become stronger than ever.

Also, the MTA has been notified that some members are getting emails at their school email addresses encouraging people to withdraw from the union.   We all know that the strength of our union is in the collective power of our members sticking together!  As always, please feel free to contact me with concerns.  

# I’m sticking with the Union!



2018 Election results

posted Jun 25, 2018, 5:11 AM by GMHSLibrary


  • Joe Pittella - 60

  • Sandra Schwarzkopf - 1


  • Mike Murphy - 45

  • Tim Larsen - 18


  • Paul Swaim - 62


  • Corey Chenette - 61

  • Lisa Ryer - 1

High School Building Rep

  • Ryan Corbett - 33

  • Shaye Mathews - 1

  • Lindsey Little - 1

Middle School Building Rep

  • Chris DiFranco - 27

  • Cassie Murray - 1

  • Tim Larsen - 1

Penn Brook Building Rep PreK-Grade 2

  • Kristen Powers - 17

  • Allison Ruggiero - 1

Penn Brook Building Rep Grades 3-6

  • Mike Walsh - 19

  • Monica McGinnis - 1

GMHS results

Elementary results

Contract ratified, elections next.

posted Jun 6, 2018, 7:54 AM by GMHSLibrary   [ updated Jun 12, 2018, 4:19 AM ]

Dear Colleagues:

The contract was overwhelmingly accepted at our yearly meeting, 80 votes in favor and 1 against.  Those members that are looking to take advantage of the new language that allows your children to come to the Georgetown Schools must email Superintendent Jacobs by June 22nd informing her of your decision to enroll your child(ten).  Over this summer, Mike and I will sit down with MTA to input the new language into the contract.  We will print out approximately 25 copies to be housed in each building and provide administrators with a copy, as well.  All updated language will be available to see through our online version of the contract on our union website this September, as well.

Finally on June 14th, we will be conducting our GEA elections.  The morning of June 14th, a link to the GEA ballot will be sent to your private email accounts for you to cast your vote for members that are running for GEA Offices. The voting will remain open until around 6 pm that night.  If you are interested in running for any of the following positions (Building Representative, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President or President) please forward your name to me ASAP.



GEA Update, April 7, 2018

posted Apr 8, 2018, 4:16 AM by GMHSLibrary

Dear Colleagues:

I wanted to take a moment and update you on a few important items as well as update you on our current contract negotiations.

1.  IPDIP- By now, an IPDIP folder should have found its way into your school mailbox.  This folder was provided to you by MTA.  It is an organizational folder to store all your PDP information.  Many members have found it useful for recertification, which most of us will have to do in 2019.  If you did not receive one, please let your building representative know and we will get one to you.

2.  GEA Annual Meeting- The E-Board met last Thursday and we are looking to have our annual GEA Meeting on Thursday, May 31st.  The meeting will be held at Penn Brook and begin promptly at 3:15 PM.  At this meeting, by-law changes will be voted upon, GEA election information will be discussed as well as all other important information pertaining to our union will be discussed.  Pleas make every effort to make this important meeting.  

3.  Contract Update-  The Negotiation Team has met with the Superintendent and the School Committee three times over the past month and a half discussing proposals.  The meetings thus far have not been very productive.  As usual, teacher raises have been the biggest obstacle.  The team has fought hard at the table for our proposals and will continue to do so.  I am not certain that we will have a tentative contract for ratification by membership by the end of this school year.  As we continue to meet, we will update membership regularly on where we are in the process. 

A few members have inquired about a few of the proposals, one being, preschool discount for members.  Currently, full time preschool costs $8,200 a year.  We have many young members that have indicated that they would send their child to preschool in Georgetown, if economically feasible.  Currently, the school committee is looking favorable at providing some financial relief to children of members, ranging anywhere from 10-25 % discount.  This proposal has no financial burden to the district and would be a great perk for members.  Also, the team is fighting hard to get contractual language that would allow the children of members to attend Georgetown Schools.  That language too is being looked at favorably by the school committee.  However, these two proposals are part of a bigger proposal package.  We are still far apart on many other proposals.  I am urging members to enroll their children in their own school district as a safe guard.  If we have a breakthrough and the contract does come up for ratification by the end of this school year then you can register your child into Georgetown.

Finally, I am urging members to stay away from and off all parent social media pages pertaining to the Georgetown Schools.  As we know, these pages are filled with emotionally charged comments that are not based on facts, merely opinions.  I know many members are on these pages.  They read the comments, which gets them upset and then discuss what was written with other members getting them upset.  You do not need the drama or the stress of reading comments that only hurt and incite.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.



How Janus v American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees affect our Union.

posted Feb 25, 2018, 10:52 AM by GMHSLibrary

I wanted to share an article with you from The Economist concerning a case that will be coming before the Supreme Court in the upcoming months.  Paul

Thoughts on the shootings in Florida.

posted Feb 25, 2018, 10:45 AM by GMHSLibrary

Dear Colleagues:

I remember thinking after the Sandy Hook tragedy that dramatic changes would occur nationwide regarding gun control laws and it did not.  Yet, here we are again, this time, seventeen high schoolers were murdered.  After every one of these events, I email my representatives in Congress and sign petitions requesting tighter gun laws but more voices are needed.  I have emailed both Senator Markey and Senator Warren and Congressman Seth Moulton to continue this fight to strengthen our gun laws, even though Massachusetts has some of the strictest laws in the nation. Also, I have emailed Superintendent Jacobs and Chief of Police Cudmore to look at installing active shooter technology in our schools, similar to that currently used in Methuen.  See the link below for more information.  Furthermore, there is a nationwide "March for our Lives" on March 24th where students will be marching in support of tougher gun laws.  I have already discussed this with Superintendent Jacobs and she is in full support of any of our students and colleagues actively participating in this march.  

The bottom line is that something needs to be done.  Email our Senators and representatives in Congress demanding action. Email our Superintendent and Chief of Police and demand that this active shooter technology be placed in our schools.  Do not believe that someone else will take care of this or that your voice will not be heard or that you are too busy.  The time is now.


Technology, designed to help police catch a school gunman, billed as first of its kind operating in public school

Changing school start times on hold for now.

posted Jun 20, 2017, 5:39 AM by GMHSLibrary

Union Update, April 6th, 2017

posted Apr 6, 2017, 12:14 PM by GMHSLibrary

Dear Colleagues:

A few weeks ago, the Board of Selectmen decided to stick with MIAA, our current health care provider for the foreseeable future.  The town finally did the leg work on receiving health care comparisons and MIAA came in with only a 4 % increase.  Early projections had MIAA coming in around 8-10 % increases.  The comparisons that the town were able to gather together were all coming in substantially higher.  Health care continues to be a hot topic and the GEA is fully committed to making sure that the town is seeking the best and least costly coverage for our members.  I want to thank member Ryan Corbett and MTA Representative, Ben Roy for attending.

I had an opportunity to speak with both School Committee Chairperson Barbie Linares and Superintendent Jacobs after the Start School Later meeting held this past Tuesday.  They both reiterated to me that they heard membership loud and clear at the meeting, as well as at the staff meetings and thanked all members who actively participated in the discussions.  A final decision will be made in the next two months and the GEA will inform membership as soon as a decision is made.

I reached out to Senator Tarr's office to extend an invitation to our state representative and gauge the interest level of Senator Tarr coming to Georgetown and to speak to members about education funding and the state of education funding, both here in Georgetown and the Commonwealth.  Senator Tarr has agreed to join us in a conversation.  On May 1st beginning at 3:15 PM in the Penn Brook Library, Senator Tarr will be HERE to meet the Georgetown staff and discuss funding issue.  I urge all members to come to this meeting to meet and discuss this serious issue.  It is not often that we get the ability to discuss these issues with policy makers and this is a golden opportunity.

On April 26th, I will be attending an MTA sponsored meeting at the Distance Learning Center in Reading from 4-6 PM.  The meeting will be centered around the issue of attacks on unions and protecting both the agency fee component of our union and attacks on the pension system of teachers.  Like the fight against Question 2 and the extension of charter school in Massachusetts, I am certain that MTA will be looking for all members to actively campaign through phone banking or sending emails to our representatives rallying behind these important issues that affect all of us.

Finally, please hold May 31st as a tentative date for our annual GEA Meeting.  At this meeting, we will discuss any bylaw changes, updates and discuss the GEA elections.  As the date gets closer, I will update membership and confirm the place, date and time.


Start school later and elementary students

posted Mar 8, 2017, 7:55 AM by GMHSLibrary

Dear Colleagues:

Below is part of an extended email from School Committee Chairperson, Barbie Linares.  Some elementary teachers asked about the impact on starting school later regarding the elementary students.  

"In my county, elementary schools begin at 9 and end at 3:30pm. Elementary children need 10-12 hours of sleep, and can fall asleep naturally near 8pm and rise well rested near 7a.m. They are awake and their brains and bodies are functioning between 7am and 8pm.  There are no detrimental effects on the brains or bodies of elementary school children beginning school at 9 or 9:15 and ending at 3:30 or 4p.m.  These hours match their natural circadian rhythms.  The concern for elementary students, as is the concern for all students, is safe bus routes in the daylight and healthy school hours. A school day from 9:15 to 3:10 is safe and healthy for elementary students."

Lynn M. Keefe, MD

Dr. Keefe serves as the Start School Later Health Policy Director.

The next public forum for the Start School Later initiative is on April 4th beginning at 6:30 PM. in the Middle/high school Auditorium.  This will be the last time for members to voice their opinion for or against.  Regardless of your opinion, please be ready to speak and support your choice with facts and data.  



Union update - March 1, 2017

posted Mar 1, 2017, 5:24 AM by GMHSLibrary

Dear Colleagues:

Here is the link to Monday night's School Committee public forum meeting about our school budget that Vice President Mike Murphy and I spoke at in favor of the budget proposal brought forth to the committee by Superintendent Jacobs.

Also, GESA members spoke also at the meeting.

Also,  the school calendar was also discussed and accepted for next school year.  The School Committee voted to start school before Labor Day for school year 2017.  I am not sure yet when opening day for new hires, first day for all staff and first day for students will be, but my guess is Monday, August 28th will be the first day school for all staff.  As soon as something is finalized I will let you know.  Also, Yom Kippur, Friday September 29th will now be a 1/2 day for all students and staff.

Joe Pittella

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