HAVERHILL, Mass. — As teachers worked the picket lines Tuesday, an Essex County Superior Court judge ordered the teachers back into the classroom just over an hour before the Haverhill school district cancelled its third straight day of classes.
Essex County Superior Court Judge James Lang issued a temporary restraining order that instructed striking teachers back to work, writing in the order that the city’s 8,000 students would suffer immediate and irreparable harm if the order was not issued.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., Lang also issued a cease and desist order, requiring union leadership to stop any action condoning or inducing the work stoppage.
At approximately 5:45 p.m. the Haverhill School System Superintendent announced that classes would be cancelled Wednesday, the third straight day school doors would be shuttered to students.
Teacher strikes violate Massachusetts law.
In a Tuesday morning hearing, Lang told the Haverhill Education Association, “I’m not a mediator. I’m here to enforce a crystal-clear statute.”
A lawyer representing the Haverhill School Committee told the court that they are nowhere close to a deal with the HEA as the third day of the strike looms large.
According to a statement from the Haverhill School Committee, the two sides met for over four hours Tuesday but were unable to bridge a gap in contract.
The state urged Lang to consider contempt violation and sanctions against the teachers to get them back in the classroom. Lang then told the union that this would be the last chance to end the strike without “coercive sanctions.”
Lang made it clear that he “fully expects” to file a preliminary injection against the striking teachers at some point Tuesday.
The HEA voted to strike Friday over issues of salary, class size, school safety and racial justice.
Teachers in Haverhill make about $10,000 less than the state average. The school district has offered teachers raises totaling $20 million over three years, but Scott Wood of the Haverhill School Committee said they are asking for more.
“Let me be clear about what that means if we give them exactly what they are asking for. That means massive layoffs throughout the district. That means user fees for students to play sports,” Wood explained.
Striking teachers in Malden returned to school Tuesday after reaching a deal on new contracts Monday night.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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