The Newton teacher strike will continue into Wednesday, canceling a fourth school day, with the union saying they are “appalled at the lack of progress” in negotiations.
The Newton Teachers Association began their strike on Friday and have reported minimal progress at the negotiation table since. The union said they have been working without a contract since August.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said on Tuesday that “everybody’s nerves are frayed.”
“My message to the union is: Let the thousands and thousands and thousands of students in Newton back into school. Please don’t continue with this strike,” she said in a message on Tuesday night. “The School Committee negotiating team will continue to bargain in good faith, and I will continue to support our terrific teachers with the funding for a competitive and sustainable contract.”
A spreadsheet shared by Fuller shows that the NTA’s proposals would increase the school’s budget by $9 million for this fiscal year. Over the next three years, the increase is more than $34 million.
Parental leave a key issue
The union is fighting for demands including a cost of living adjustment, longevity bonus increases, elementary and aide preparation time, better parental leave, and full-time social workers at every school, according to the spreadsheet.
In Massachusetts, 60-day paid parental leave is legally required for all employers except municipal employers, including public school teachers. The NTA is asking for the NPS to match the state standard.
At Tuesday night’s press conference, the union shared that a special education teacher in the district, who is pregnant and set to be induced Wednesday, does not have enough sick days left to take a full 60-day leave under their current contract.
Ryan Normandin, a math and physics teacher at Newton South High School and member of NTA’s negotiations team, said the school committee has rejected their proposals for a “humane, modern” parental leave, among other requests.
“Mayor Fuller and her school committee are not serious about settling this contract. They are not serious about getting kids back into schools,” Normandin said. “They haven’t ever been serious about doing this.”
Union potentially racking up fines
The strike, which is illegal like all strikes among public employees in Massachusetts, could carry fines up to $200,000 by the end of the week.
The union has already been fined $25,000 for failing to end their strike by Monday night after a court order.
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