Classes will be out for a fourth straight day Thursday in Woburn, Massachusetts, despite a judge ordering escalating fines for the continuation of the teacher strike.
The strike comes amid contact negotiations, with the Woburn Teachers Association calling for fair contracts, better pay for paraprofessionals and smaller class sizes. But the mayor of Woburn calls the strike "illegal," and is slamming educators for "the inconvenience" impacting parents and students.
On Wednesday, a judge imposed fines on the WTA, starting at $40,000 and escalating if the strike continues. Each day after that will see a $5,000 increase until the strike ends. The city has requested higher amounts — $50,000 per day, with a $10,000 per day escalator for as long as the strike continues.
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Woburn Superintendent Matt Crowley said in a robocall message to parents that schools would remain closed Thursday.
"I'm calling to let you know that despite another full day of negotiations, there is not yet an agreement with the Woburn Teachers Association," Crowley said in a voicemail recording obtained by NBC10 Boston. "As a result, the Woburn Teachers Association will be out on an illegal strike tomorrow, and all Woburn schools will be closed for students."
"Here we go again," Woburn Teachers Association President Barbara Locke said Wednesday night. "We're here, ready to bargain, schools were called off while we were still negotiating, and Mayor Galvin booked himself an hourlong talk show at 8 o'clock."
Both sides have signaled that progress is being made, however, no deal has been reached.
Locke said that they hoped to stay at the negotiating table, but talks wrapped up around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Mayor Scott Galvin said officials have offered to raise the pay for paraprofessionals by 40%.
“Very frustrated," Galvin said. "I think the taxpayers are frustrated. Parents are extremely frustrated. The inconvenience continues for their children."
Wednesday's court hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m., then, at 3:30 p.m., teachers are anticipated to hold a rally on the Woburn Common.