Malden, Mass. (WHDH) – Teachers in Haverhill and Malden have voted to go on strike on Monday if no agreement is reached with unions.
Dozens of educators from Malden and Haverhill public schools rallied outside Malden Town Hall on Saturday to publicly demand a better contract.
Haverhill Public Schools said the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission ordered both sides to attend an arbitration meeting on Saturday.
“We got nowhere with negotiations,” said Tim Briggs of the Haverhill Education Association.
The Malden Education Association, meanwhile, said it only asks for basic needs.
“One of the simplest suggestions we made, which was rejected multiple times by the school committee, was to put first-aid kits in every single classroom and workspace,” said Deb Gesualdo, president of the Malden Education Association. “That’s a nice, I think, easy question, and it’s been turned down multiple times.”
The Haverhill Education Association said they are asking for more salary.
“At Haverhill right now we’re representing our teachers, our educators, our professional licensed teachers, and at Haverhill our teachers have been severely underpaid for two decades,” Briggs said.
Scott Wood, a member of the Haverhill School Committee, released a statement stating:
“Not only does a strike harm the children and families of Haverhill, it’s illegal here in Massachusetts. Strikes do not bring us together to come to a joint decision on a contract that is fair and just for our teachers, Haverhill families and taxpayers.”
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson released a statement saying, in part:
“We are deeply surprised and discouraged that the leadership of the Malden Education Association is willing to cause inconvenience to families and disrupt the education of more than 6,000 students to advance their collective bargaining positions, especially as we are not currently at an impasse.”
However, members of both unions are calling for more communication.
“How we treat our educators is how we treat our students,” Briggs said.
Both unions said they would strike if no agreement was reached by the weekend.
“We don’t want to be on a picket line, but we also know our students need fully funded schools and the city can do that and they choose not to.”
Massachusetts state law prohibits public employees from striking, but teachers have struck in the past. Brookline educators made the decision to strike back in May after failing to reach an agreement with the union. Brookline educators joined colleagues from Haverhill and Malden in their protest on Saturday.
“You can’t ask a person to do the impossible and then tell them they’re not skilled enough to do it,” said Jessica Wender-Shubow of the Brookline Educators Union. “What educators are saying is that we need our energy to teach. We don’t want them sitting at negotiating tables and being treated like children. And I think there’s no going back.”
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