MALDEN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — What was foreshadowed at the weekend's start has come to fruition— both Malden and Haverhill Public Schools have canceled the Monday school day, after negotiations with each district's educators' union were unsuccessful.
Haverhill Public Schools announced Monday evening that classes will be canceled again on Tuesday as contract negotiations continue between the district and the teachers union.
The decision to cancel school on Monday came just the day before on Sunday for both school districts, after no agreement was reached between members from the Malden Education Association and Haverhill Education Association and their respective school committees.
"There will be no after-school programs, extracurricular, and athletic practices/games. Transportation will be provided for out-of-district students. All staff should report to work," Malden Public Schools said in their announcement.
Haverhill Public Schools said in their announcement that while some middle ground has been found, class would still have to be put on hold while teachers march the picket lines.
"Unfortunately, while both sides have compromised, the School Committee and HEA Teachers do not yet have a tentative agreement. As such, we are forced to cancel school for students tomorrow, Monday, October 17, 2022," HPS said.
Union members authorized the strikes on Friday, saying in a joint statement that if agreements concerning working contracts were not reached, classes would likely be put off— something that has now come to pass. In the MEA and HEA's statement, union members said educator working conditions and the school committees' disinterest of it have a direct effect on the quality of student learning.
“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.”
On Saturday, HEA representatives and the Haverhill Teachers Negotiating Subcommittee entered a meditation session mandated by the Labor Relations Board. Educators from both cities held rallies in front of their respective City Halls that same day.
In a prior statement, the Mayor of Malden Gary Christenson said the School Committee will "continue to negotiate in good faith" until an agreement is reached.
In Malden, about 600 teachers showed up at picket lines at the city's seven public schools for the start of the strike.
Douglas Dias, a STEM Director at Malden Public Schools and one of the Union negotiators, told WBZ's Shari Small that school committee members walked out of negotiations over the weekend.
"We were making great progress and I was impressed with both our team and the fact that the school committee seemed prepared to negotiate," Dias said. "We were genuinely surprised when they walked away from the table."
Issues at the center of these strikes, MEA and HEA members say, are staffing shortages, racial and social justice, safety in schools, adequate time for educators to prepare and collaborate, and staid wages.
"We want to make sure that our schools are safe, that we are staffed sufficiently to teach students, and that teachers are all paid appropriately," Dias said. "With inflation right now over eight percent, starting at a two percent [raise] is a difficult way to go."
Dias said these demands will help avoid teacher shortages in the future.
"Part of our frustration is to see quality educators that we hire stay with us for a year or two and then they go somewhere else for more money," he said.
Negotiations were set to start back up at 8 a.m. Monday morning.
WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports.