Teachers find illegal strikes ‘worth it’ – Boston News, Weather, Sports

FEB. 6, 2023…..The Massachusetts Teachers Association wants to legalize teachers’ strikes despite Gov. Maura Healey protesting the idea, but unions are simultaneously posting contract gains with a string of strikes in violation of state law.

Educators in Woburn spent five school days on strike before reaching a deal with the district on Sunday night, the latest in a string of such labor actions over the past year, which will bring massive attention, some fines to unions and, in any case, a contract agreement.

In May, Brookline Educators strike for a day before a contract agreement is reached. The teachers there went on strike malden for a single day in October, the same month that Haverhill teacher went on strike for four days. And last month Melrose teacher voted to go on strike and then quickly agreed a deal with the city to avert school closures.

Massachusetts is one of dozens of states where public employees and public employee organizations are allowed to go on strike, and advocates have been unsuccessful for years in persuading a critical mass of lawmakers to support changing the status quo.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association aimed to end this ban Priorities for the 2023-2024 meetingand argued that a lack of ability to legally strike puts educators at a disadvantage when negotiating contracts with districts that have the ability to delay talks.

In the meantime, the unions have decided to go on strike, aware that such action would violate state law and could have financial consequences.

Last year, the Haverhill Educator Association agreed to pay the school committee $200,000 as part of their return-to-workplace agreement. after WBUR. The Woburn Agreement also includes a refund payment of US$225,000 from the union, the Boston Globe reported, while outlining 13.75 percent salary increases for teachers and about 40 percent salary increases for paraprofessionals, who typically start at a salary of $22,000 a year.

“No educator wants to go on strike, no local says it’s a great thing. It becomes necessary in their minds to do so. They realize that not having schools open is not easy for anyone. It’s not their ideal at all,” MTA President Max Page told the news service. “Conversely, they also do it because they want to gain parental leave or fair pay for underpaid paraprofessionals in the short and long term, thereby upgrading the profession – after all, they make the calculation that it is worthwhile to achieve this in the long term.”

Any attempt to reverse the Massachusetts public sector ban on strikes has met with resistance from corner offices.

Healey, a Democrat who has earned the MTA’s support on the campaign trail, said in one Interview on CBS Boston which aired on Sunday, said it does not support the union’s push to authorize strikes among educators.

“I think we should do everything we can to support our educators, especially at this time and what so many have been going through with COVID – a great burden on our educators, also a great burden on our children and families. So when I see kids leaving school every day because of a strike, it just breaks my heart because the kids have been through enough in terms of learning loss and stuff like that,” Healey said. “My strong encouragement was to resolve this work matter. Let’s get the kids back to school. Let’s give them what they need and, of course, find ways to support our educators and our schools.”

When host Jon Keller asked if that meant Healey would veto a bill that would allow teachers’ unions to strike if it reached her desk, she replied, “I’m not a fan.”

“There’s a reason for that,” she said of the ban in place. “While I have a lot of sympathy and want to make sure workers, in this case educators, are getting paid what they should for their important work, it’s still of paramount importance that our children go to school.”

Page said the Mass. Teachers Association “disagrees with their views” and plans to work to “educate them on exactly what this legislation does”.

Representatives Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Erika Uyterhoeven of Somerville, and Senator Becca Rausch of Needham, all Democrats, introduced legislation (HD588 / SD317) in the new session that would allow some public servants to start a strike after six months of collective bargaining.

“If you listen to her full comments, she also says that $22,000 a year for a paraprofessional isn’t enough to make a living on and that educators need fair pay and good working conditions in their schools,” Page said of Healey’s interview. “I think the governor understands the problem. Where we might disagree is simply that this right can actually enable better and faster negotiations.”

Connolly and Uyterhoeven sought a similar bill in the 2021-2022 session, but leading Democrats sent it into a dead-end study without it showing up for a vote in either chamber.

“This law would end the grotesque and outrageous ban on full union labor and the potential for strike action for public sector workers,” Connolly said on Friday. “Like everyone, we want our children to go to school, so I urge everyone to negotiate and find a solution. But there is one point I want to emphasize and that is the wonderful education that children receive when they see their teachers stand up and demand dignity and respect in the workplace.”

Healey’s stance is similar to that of her predecessor, Republican Governor Charlie Baker. When the teachers at Malden and Haverhill went on strike in October, said baker it was “manifestly unlawful to strike” and warned of the impact on students.

The debate revealed an early point of tension between Healey and the interests of organized labor.

After a rally outside the State House on Friday, Woburn educators entered the building and requested a meeting with Healey. An aide declined to ask the governor or Lt. gov. Kim Driscoll and said both are in meetings.

“The state should show that it cares about people who care for our children and make $22,000,” said Steve Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, referring to the starting salary for paraprofessionals in Woburn. “They don’t get paid for three months in the summer, so it’s nine months. Share that, it’s about $13.50 an hour. I ask you: Do you think that’s right?”

(Copyright (c) 2022 State House News Service.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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