School districts in Massachusetts are bracing for illegal teachers’ strikes, which again threaten school closures

have teacher unions in Malden and Haverhill in Massachusetts voted for approval Teachers’ strikes beginning Monday if their demands aren’t met, even though public sector workers’ strikes are illegal under Massachusetts law. The strikes again threaten to impact students whose learning needs have been severely impacted by teacher-led school closures during the pandemic. This time, teachers are threatening to refuse to return to work on Monday over things like their wages, staffing and class size.

Malden Teachers Union President Deb Gesualdo defended the vote for an illegal strike, telling WBUR: “No one wants to go on strike. Nobody wants to take illegal action. But we feel we are being pushed into a corner and need to . It’s very serious.”

By “cornered,” Gesaulto appears to mean that the teachers felt “disrespected” by the offers they received in the collective bargaining process. “I think it sends a bigger and stronger message that we don’t get stuck in these toxic cycles of endless, disrespectful negotiations that aren’t just disrespectful to educators, but disrespectful to our students, their families and the community.” ‘ Gesaulto said.

Negotiations are set to resume on Sunday to avert a strike.

Haverhill meanwhile does not want to accept the threatened illegal strike. It has threatened to take the Haverhill Education Association to a higher court in a case that should be open and closed if the strike continues. She has also reported the union to the state Department of Labor and asked for an investigation into the threat of an illegal strike.

Officials from both school districts condemned the teachers’ unions’ threats to strike, saying the strikes would not bring the parties any closer to a negotiated deal, but would only hurt students who were already falling behind academically as a result of the pandemic-related school closures.

At least one elected Democrat in Massachusetts, however, believes that not only should teachers go on strike, but that the law should be changed to specifically allow teachers to unilaterally vote to close schools. “Restoring the right to strike is fundamental,” said state representative Erika Uyterhoeven WBZ TV.

According to WBUR, if the strikes continue tomorrow, about 14,000 students will be affected. School districts in Massachusetts are bracing for illegal teachers’ strikes, which again threaten school closures

Laura Coffey

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