Woburn

Woburn Teacher Strike Continues, Canceling School for 3rd Day

The sticking points in the negotiations include pay for teachers and paraprofessionals, along with class size

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Classes will be canceled once again Wednesday for students in Woburn, Massachusetts, as teachers there continue their strike amid contract negotiations.

Negotiations resumed Tuesday morning at Joyce Middle School, as both parties say they want to reach a deal so children can go back to school. Those talks remain ongoing, but officials with the office of Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin announced Tuesday evening that students would remain out of class for a third day.

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"Unfortunately, we weren't able to come to a deal tonight, so the teachers will continue with their unlawful strike tomorrow," Galvin said.

The mayor said he was "frustrated" by the strike, which he called "a terrible burden to our children, to our families [and] to the residents."

"Who do you trust? Do you trust the teachers, who take care of your children, love your children, or do you trust the politicians, who care more about the bottom line?" Woburn Teachers Association President Barbara Locke asked Tuesday night.

Locke said that more progress was made Tuesday, but that city leaders once again left the table around 7 p.m.

"We thought we were making some compromises, but they just decided that they weren't going to negotiate anymore and they went home," she said.

Teachers remained on the picket line, while city officials asked a judge to fine the union for refusing to stop the strike. The request is for fines of $50,000 a day, with a $10,000 per day escalator.

"We don't necessarily want to be here, but we want a fair contract — we want one that works for students, that works for teachers, educators and the community," history teacher at Woburn High School Eric Scarborough said.

The strike began on Monday, after contract talks stalled over the weekend. More than 500 educators were protesting outside the city's schools, as the district's student body of 4,000 plus stayed home.

"Their continued refusal to come back to school is hurting our children," Galvin said. "It is dividing our community and what they are doing is not right for the taxpayers."

The standoff between the Woburn Teachers' Association and city officials continues as a second day of classes had to be canceled Tuesday.

An injunction was filed Monday by the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board on behalf of the Woburn School Committee, in an effort to force teachers off the picket line and back to class. Late Monday night, a judge ordered teachers to stop the strike and go back into the classroom. If they don't comply, the union could face fines.

A judge at Middlesex Superior Court spent about an hour Tuesday questioning why teachers are still striking despite the order to stop.

The Woburn Teachers' Association will continue its strike Tuesday after negotiations with the city did not reach a deal.

Although there were conflicting reports by the Woburn Teachers Association and Woburn mayor as to when Monday's negotiations actually began, both sides said there was some progress made. It wasn't enough, though, to close a deal, so school was canceled for a second day.

"We did work to get some proposals, back and forth. We felt we were making some headway. And they came back with a proposal at about eight o'clock, and then decided to go home," Locke said Monday. "Let me change that: They decided to quit."

As of Monday afternoon a judge had not made a decision on an injunction that would force teachers back to work.

Mayor Galvin called the strike "illegal."

"We're not at all happy about it, and I don't know how anybody in the city could be happy about it," Galvin said. "We're working hard, we've got a good offer on the table, good package on the table."

The sticking points in the negotiations include pay for teachers and paraprofessionals, along with class size.

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