Teachers in Haverhill, Mass., could be closer to striking Monday after a seven-hour meeting on Saturday resulted in no agreement between the school committee and the teachers’ union.
According to the Haverhill Teachers Negotiating Subcommittee, the union disagreed with the committee’s financial offer. The subcommittee says the union is asking for double the salary the city of Boston agreed to with the teachers’ union.
“Their total rejection of our unprecedented financial offer shows that the union leadership is only interested in walking off the job, despite the order from the State Department of Labor Relations to cease and desist from striking. or threatening to strike,” said Haverhill school board member Scott. Wood said in a written statement.
Teachers voted Friday to strike Monday if no new contract is agreed over the weekend.
“We’re professionals who live and breathe for these kids, and we just feel like we’re being disrespected,” said physical education teacher Christine Hickey.
Key issues they negotiate also include policies involving diversity, health and safety.
The teachers say they haven’t had a contract since the summer.
“If you underestimate your teachers, what else are you underestimating? asked Tim Briggs, president of the Haverhill Education Association. “These are our students.”
Wood said the school would be closed on Monday if there was no agreement.
“A strike will be detrimental to our community and will do nothing to bring us closer to a resolution,” Wood said.
A similar situation is brewing in Malden, where teachers have also called a strike for Monday if no deal is reached over the weekend.
City leaders say the school is open Monday for now, but they are also preparing to close in case negotiations with their teachers bog down.
In a statement, Malden Superintendent Ligia Noriega-Murphy said, “This maneuver by leaders of the Malden Education Association may be intended to send a message to school district leaders, but ultimately it is our students. and our families who suffer the consequences of these tactics.”
Some 6,000 students at Malden and 8,000 at Haverhill would be affected.
“Haverhill students aren’t getting what they deserve,” said Haverhill music teacher Barry Davis. “We are losing great teachers.”
Teachers do not have the right to strike in Massachusetts and could face legal action if they walk out.
“Sometimes you have to push the envelope to do something,” Briggs said.