Massachusetts’s Governor Is Playing an Ugly Game of Covid Politics With Teachers’ Lives

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has sought to position himself as a sensible Republican – a relatively moderate one who announced before the 2020 election that he was wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump and whose condemnation of Trump’s instigation of the insurrection was on January 6th presented in a video montage by impeachment managers of the house bringing the case against the former president.

Still, Baker has shown a downright disregard for the health and safety of public school teachers by Trumpians in a dispute over the past few weeks Schools reopening. In a rush to resume personal learning, Baker came into conflict with teachers’ unions over whether enough was being done to protect educators and other school staff from the threat of Covid-19. It’s not unusual. Similar battles have raged in states and cities across the country as officials pushed for a swift reopening, while unions and their allies argued that vaccination of educators and staff must come first – along with appropriate steps to keep school buildings safe Ensure and that protocols are followed to prevent the virus from spreading.

But Baker went a step further when he argued with the unions about whether he was doing enough to protect the teachers. He attacked the unions in a language so vitriolic and dishonest that his approach drew comparisons to former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, the anti-labor zealot who attacked public employees and their unions a decade ago made it his priority in a fight that was attracting national attention.

“What is Baker doing?” asked Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, who has been on the front lines for science-based approaches to reopening schools. Noting that “the educators are trying to create the conditions for the school to reopen safely”. Weingarten wondered, “Why isn’t Charlie Baker doing what he can to make sure the school reopens?”

What was bizarre about Baker’s combative approach was that the two statewide education unions, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and AFT Massachusetts, went out of their way to work with the governor. They proceeded proactively and advocated a scientifically sound “Rapid vaccination schedule for educators“Similar to vaccination for first aiders. In a letter dated February 10thsuggested the unions:

Just as the state is pushing a plan to vaccinate public transport workers, we also need a plan to vaccinate all educators. We urge the state to set aside enough vaccines from the supply currently in freezers to guide our program in 10 to 20 needy school districts. At the same time, the state continues to vaccinate people between the ages of 65 and 74. As more vaccines, when the program becomes available, it will be expanded to include admissions to school staff across the state.

That sounded logical, as did the union’s proposal to run the vaccination program at local locations, with trained rescue workers and firefighters administering doses. The fire service union was on board, Signaling that its members “endeavored to bring our experience to work with this plan”. The teachers were ready to go.

“The state has no plan to get the vaccine into the arms of all school employees, so we have partnered with the fire service union to create our own,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said in February. “Unions have a job to protect the health and safety of their members, which ultimately protects their communities. By streamlining an on-site process of vaccinating school workers, this union-led plan will make our schools and communities safer. It’s time to act. ”

Instead of welcoming the proposal, the Baker administration let weeks pass, rejected the model outlined by the unions, and ripped open the teachers. “We’re just not going to play this game.” mocked Bakerwho has come under fire for mistreatment of the entire vaccination program.

The governor argued that “teachers do not need to be vaccinated to raise children” accused educators “Searching for their own vaccine and not participating in the process that everyone else is participating in.”

A statement from the governors’ office last week said the government was “dismayed that, despite reasonable efforts to prioritize vaccination among educators, teachers unions continue to demand that the Commonwealth remove hundreds of thousands of vaccines from the sick, oldest and most at risk in Massachusetts and forward it to union members, 95 percent of whom are under 65 years of age. ”

Union leaders who met with the government were shocked by the governor’s line of scrimmage, ignoring concerns about younger teachers with pre-existing conditions and trying to pit teachers against the communities they serve.

“I’m actually quite surprised about the vitriol.” said Beth Kontos, the President of AFT Massachusetts, the state subsidiary of the American Federation of Teachers. “The governor characterizes us as wanting to take vaccines away from the sick and the elderly, which is completely wrong.”

The unions said they did not try to take vaccines from other groups. Rather, as Baker and his aides had been explained, they wanted to use cans that were already reserved for teachers – whom the governor wanted to travel to mass vaccination sites – and make them available at local community clinics.

The unions’ approach has been praised by dozens of state lawmakers. who wrote Baker and stated that the plan proposed by the firefighters and teachers was “the safest way to get vaccination fast, efficient and accessible”. One of the organizers of the letter, which was endorsed by Democrats and Republicans, was the Senator from the Democratic State Becca intoxicationexpressed the opinion of the legislature when she argued, “Educators and school staff must have access to #CovidVaccine before they can return to full, personal school.”

Beth HuangThe director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, a statewide coalition of groups that deal with voter engagement for grassroots organization, conducted the Scott Walker comparison.

“Charlie Baker’s attack on teachers ‘unions for wanting vaccines before teaching in person during the pandemic reminds me of Scott Walker’s attack on teachers’ unions because of the budget gap during a recession,” said Huang, who trained at the University of Wisconsin and USA good to the historic struggle in this state. “Baker is biz conservatively cut from the same fabric as Walker.”

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