Woburn Teachers Strike, Cancel School While State Files For Injunction

Woburn teachers picket outside a school on Monday, after the Woburn Teacher's Association called a strike when contract negotiations with the city fell through. Photo: James Rojas/WBZ NewsRadio

WOBURN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — UPDATED 1/30/23 (1:52 P.M.)

The Commonwealth Employment Relations Board is taking court action after teachers hit the picket line in Woburn after the local teacher's union and the city failed to reach a deal over the weekend. After classes were canceled for all Woburn public schools on Monday, the state filed for an injunction in Middlesex Superior Court to order the striking teachers to return to work. The injunction request is being put before a judge for a hearing on Monday afternoon.

The plaintiffs cite the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedures Rule 65(a) for failing to comply with the Order of the Board to cease and desist from striking and continue negotiations.

The Woburn Teacher's Association says roughly 500 members are striking for better wages, for both teachers and paraprofessionals who don't make what they call "a living wage." They're also looking for smaller class sizes and two gym classes a week for elementary school students. The union says teachers have been working without a contract for more than a year.

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WTA President Barbara Locke says paraprofessional salaries start at $22,000 a year.

The Woburn School Committee and the union did not reach an agreement for a new contract in a negotiating session on Sunday, but both sides are set to return to the table at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

The city said yesterday's session was "productive" and that city leadership "continue to believe that our offer is fair."

Public worker strikes are illegal in Massachusetts, and the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board ordered the WTA not to strike in a ruling on Friday.

WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) is speaking to teachers on the picket line in Woburn:

Meantime, working families had to scramble for childcare options with school canceled on Monday. The cafeteria in the Boys & Girls Club in Woburn was open earlier than normal to accommodate the kids that their working parents can't watch.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe spoke to Executive Director Julie Gage, who says they wanted to help out families that had no place for their kids to go on Monday.

"We just wanted to do what was right, a lot of working families don't have a lot of options. We wanted to open our doors and just have a safe place for kids to go and help out working families. Kids that are here are having a wonderful day, parents we've heard from are very appreciative," Gage said.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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