MALDEN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Teachers in Malden and Haverhill could be absent on Monday if their contracts aren't settled over the weekend.
Members from Malden Education Association and Haverhill Education Association approved strikes to begin, pending contract signing, as they said educators have been working without contracts. In a statement, the MEA and HEA said teachers' working conditions directly impact students' learning conditions and that the lack of interest from school committees in addressing teachers' needs is affecting their students.
“We are saying enough is enough. Our students deserve better, our communities deserve better, and we deserve better," MEA and HEA said in a statement, "We acknowledge the disruption our strikes can cause. But we can no longer in good conscience see our students receive less than they deserve and for educators to be continually disrespected as professionals. We are ready to bargain any time to settle these contracts. Our respective school committees have the power and authority to avert these actions.”
In the statement, they said the respective unions have made multiple proposals to address staffing shortages, racial and social justice, safety in schools, adequate time for educators to prepare and collaborate, and wages that have been chronically suppressed.
Malden Mayor, Gary Christenson, refuted the education associations' argument that there was a lack of interest from school committees.
"Contrary to reports that the School Committee has not responded to proposals, the Negotiations Subcommittee has been and will continue to negotiate in good faith until we reach agreement on a contract that is fair to our employees, is in line with the economic realities facing the City, and meets the needs of our students and families,” Malden Mayor Gary Christenson said.
Malden Superintendent, Ligia Noriega-Murphy, referred to the potential strike as a maneuver by leaders of the Malden Education Association intended to send school district leaders a message. Both Christenson and Noriega-Murphy said the strike would unfairly impact children's education and parents who will need to make accommodations if schools are closed on Monday.
In a statement from the Haverhill School Committee, they agreed, saying a strike would create a burden for parents who may be forced to leave their children home alone because they cannot afford to miss work.
On Saturday morning, the Haverhill Teachers Negotiating Subcommittee joined a mediator and HEA representatives in a discussion to resolve the labor situation, mandated by the Labor Relations Board.
"If the union follows through on their vote for an illegal job action, schools will be closed to students on Monday, however all employees will be expected to report to work," Haverhill School Committee said in a statement, "If there is a strike, the Haverhill School Committee will join the State Labor Relations Board at Essex Superior Court in Salem to file action against the HEA for violating the board’s ruling prohibiting a strike."
Malden Education Association President Deb Gesualdo and Haverhill Education Association President Tim Briggs hosted a press event Friday evening to discuss. Educators are holding rallies on Saturday at 1 P.M. at Haverhill City Hall and at 4 P.M at Malden City Hall.