Students in Woburn are not going to school on Monday as hundreds of their teachers are on strike after the local teachers’ union and the school committee failed to reach an agreement on a new contract on Sunday.
The strike, which affects 4,300 public school students, was a last resort of the Woburn Teachers Association (WTA) after they voted on January 27 not to return to work if the contract was not completed by Monday.
WTA President Barbara Locke said, “The mayor and school committee showed a complete reluctance to negotiate a paraprofessional contract or pay them a living wage.” “We could have settled this contract tonight. Unfortunately, their reckless refusal to continue talks tonight means the planned strike will begin on Monday, Jan. ,
The 8:30 a.m. strike in front of Woburn Memorial High School infuriated the school committee and Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin. Officials in a joint statement called the strike, “illegal, disruptive and unnecessary” to the vote.
Both the association and the school committee signed an agreement for the 2021-2022 school year. However, since that contract expired, the two sides have been embroiled in contract negotiations lasting more than a year, according to a statement From the school committee and Mayor Galvin. Both groups claimed the committee and association representatives reached a tentative agreement in October of 2022, but the WTA declined to confirm this.
Woburn teachers are fighting for increased pay for both paraprofessionals and teachers, smaller class sizes and physical education twice a week for their students.
“Although we felt that today’s session was productive and we believe that our offer was fair, we have not reached an agreement with the WTA,” the school committee and the mayor said in a statement.
The latest proposal came on January 18 from the school committee and the mayor’s office. Both parties described the proposal as “a fair and highly competitive proposal” because it would allow for the reduction of class sizes, professional development, increased instructional time, and salary increases. However, the WTA never responded to the offer, Galvin said.
On January 24, after the WTA learned of a possible walkout, the school committee filed a petition with the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations, calling it “an illegal strike”.
The school committee and the mayor’s office said, “The committee thought it was imperative to take action in hopes of preventing any disruption to learning for our students.”
It’s January. 27, Labor Relations Department orders WTA to stop joining the strike And resume conversations with the school committee. Despite the order, the WTA remained steadfast in its commitment to the strike until a contract agreement was reached. Both the committee and the association are set to meet again on Monday at 9:30 am for another bargaining session.
Locke said, “At the WTA, we hope that a resolution can be reached on Monday so that Woburn teachers can do what they love, which is getting back into the classroom to teach the children of Woburn.”