Allowing public school teachers to go on strike would be “a bridge too far” and neglects lessons from the pandemic about the importance of personal learning, the state’s education commissioner said Tuesday, as the largest teachers’ unions prepare to legislate for to influence this authority in the United States New session.
Massachusetts Teachers Association President Max Page on Tuesday filled out the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education with the union’s priorities announced publicly them earlier this month. The first two priorities have been to secure more money for education, both through the forthcoming income supplement and through traditional funding sources.
But third on the MTA’s list of priorities is “retaking” the right to strike, which Page said teachers “would exercise out of love for their students and a public service to any community when the need arises.”
Although teachers in some communities have gone on strike this year, public school educators in Massachusetts are illegal to strike because of a state statute that dictates that “no public employee or workers’ organization may participate in a strike and no public employee or a workers’ organization encourages or condones strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns or withholding of services by such public officials.”
During his updates to the board later Tuesday morning, Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said he wanted to provide an “off the cuff” explanation of what he had heard from Page.
“I am somewhat shocked to see the MTA President standing before us today trying to petition the legislature to allow the unions to go on strike. I want to be clear that I’m a supporter of collective bargaining rights, but I just think that’s a step too far at this point,” Riley said. “Our focus has to be on the children. The kids have to be in school. But you know, I think more details will follow on that. I just think this affects me personally. After COVID, I think if we haven’t learned anything, the kids need to go to school.”
The Committee on Labor and Personnel Development sent for study in September a bill tabled at that session to repeal the ban on strikes by public servants and public servants’ organizations (H 1946), almost always a dead-end for legislation.
(Copyright (c) 2022 State House News Service.
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