Teachers in Haverhill, Malden on Verge of Striking

If deals are not met over the weekend, teachers in two Massachusetts communities are set to go on strike

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Teachers in two Massachusetts communities are on the verge of going on strike.

In Haverhill Friday night, teachers voted to strike Monday if no new contract is reached over the weekend.

"We are professional people who live and breathe for these children, and we just feel like we're disrespected," said physical education teacher Christine Hickey.

Teachers say they haven't had a contract since the summer.

Key issues include pay, as well as policies involving diversity, health and safety.

"If you're going to undervalue your teachers, what else are you undervaluing?" asked Tim Briggs, president of the Haverhill Education Association. "It's our students."

In a statement, Haverhill School Committee member Scott Wood said school will be closed on Monday if there's no agreement.

"Striking does nothing to bring us together to come to a mutual decision on a contract which is fair and equitable for our teachers," Wood said.

A similar situation is brewing in Malden, where teachers have also called for a strike for Monday if no deal is reached this weekend.

City leaders say school is on for Monday for the time being but they're 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 families who suffer the consequences of these tactics."

Some 6,000 students in Malden and 8,000 in Haverhill would be impacted.

"The students in Haverhill are not getting what they deserve," said Haverhill music teacher Barry Davis. "We are losing great teachers."

Teachers are prohibited from striking in Massachusetts and could face legal action if they walk out.

"Sometimes you have to push the envelope to get something done," said Briggs.

Teachers in both districts will be holding rallies on Saturday, and negotiations will continue to take place through the weekend.

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