WOBURN, Mass. — Woburn Public Schools will be closed for a second straight day on Tuesday as a teacher strike continues amid negotiations over a new contract.
Mayor Scott Galvin decided to quit negotiations at 8 p.m. Monday after refusing to negotiate for most of the morning.
The state and city of Woburn sought an injunction to order rn to the negotiation table until 2:30 p.m. Monday is why school is canceled for another day. This is simply unacceptable,” said WTA President Barbara Locke. “Significant progress was made in the last few hours on improving wages for our paraprofessionals. We strongly felt that a contract could have been resolved tonight and that our educators would return to doing what they do best: teaching our Woburn students.”
The state and city of Woburn sought an injunction to order striking teachers back to school after arguments from both sides were made in court Monday afternoon. A Massachusetts Judge orders Woburn teachers to cease and desist from the strike since it’s illegal to go on strike in the state. Around 10 p.m. a judge ordered teachers to go back to work tomorrow.
Teachers in Woburn could be seen rallying outside city hall, with hundreds of people holding signs and cheering as traffic passed – all part of an effort to seek a new contract. Among their demands, the WTA said they want better pay, smaller class sizes and more gym time for students.
“We’re not trying to be millionaires, we’re just trying to make a livable wage so we can feed our families,” said WTA President Barbara Locke.
Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin said the district is offering teachers a more than 10% raise over three years, but the union wants a 14.75% raise. Galvin said that is an impossible proposal. The teachers have also been demanding the city negotiate a new contract for paraprofessionals at the same time as the teacher talks, stating the current starting salary for paraprofessionals is around $22,000. They are fighting to raise that base pay to $27,000.
“Their illegal strike is not going to be used as a bargaining chip and they’re not going to use it to hijack negotiations,” Galvin said. “The kids are going to be inconvenienced, the parents are going to be inconvenienced, and for the teachers to say they have no other options, it’s outrageous.”
A city spokesperson said the two sides have met about 25 times in the past 18 months to try to sort out a contract.
“I think it’s sad. We want to be back. We want to be back in our classrooms,” said first-grade teacher, Karen Dionne. “It’s what they have to do, I guess. Hopefully, our mayor and our team can come to an agreement.”
Massachusetts Teachers Association President Max Page issued the following statement regarding the Woburn Teachers’ Association’s fight for a fair contract:
The members of the Woburn Teachers’ Association have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in September 2022. It is completely unacceptable that Mayor Scott Galvin and the Woburn School Committee walked out of bargaining on Sunday and continue to use delay tactics in today’s bargaining sessions. The educators of the Woburn Teachers Association are prepared to keep negotiating in good faith until a fair agreement is reached.
The WTA has been adamant that paraeducators—those who work with the district’s most vulnerable students and are crucial to the functioning of Woburn’s schools—deserve to earn a living wage, and that all educators get fair cost-of-living wage increases during a time of high inflation. The WTA is fighting to make sure that students’ needs are met, from having access to physical education to ensuring that class sizes are reasonable.
The WTA is proposing reasonable working and learning conditions that will benefit the entire community. The MTA supports Woburn educators in their contract fight against exploitation of its most vulnerable workers who are also members of this community.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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