- An illegal teachers strike that canceled classes for 11 days in Massachusetts’ Newton Public Schools came to an end Sunday as the Newton Teachers Association ratified a new contract with the school district. The contract includes a minimum 12% cost of living increase for all union members over the next four years.
- The strike grew costly after a Massachusetts judge imposed over $600,000 in fines against the teachers union for violating state labor laws that prohibit public union strikes.
- The new contract — approved by 97% of union members — includes bumping parental leave from 10 to 20 days; adding social workers, school counselors and psychologists to school staff; and reducing class sizes at the high school level.
The Newton teacher strike shows how increasingly tense — and costly — educator union negotiations are becoming, especially when students go weeks without attending class.
Because of the strike, the 11,700-student district incurred significant costs, according to the Newton School Committee. Contract negotiations stalled at one point Friday as the district proposed a “return to work agreement” that would “extract more than $1 million from educators,” the union posted on Facebook.
During the final stages of negotiations over the weekend, the district and union eventually agreed to a return to work agreement requiring the union to pay its court fines of $625,000 directly to Newton Public Schools. Teachers and staff also must make up for the 11 missed instructional days — as will students — to meet the state requirement for students to attend school 180 days during the 2023-24 school year. It is not yet clear when those make-up days will be scheduled.
In November, Portland Public Schools also shuttered for 11 instructional days due to a major teachers strike. That district agreed to a three-year, $175 million contract with the union and set a schedule to make up for the lost class time.
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said in a statement at the time that the agreement would spur “significant cuts during our spring budget process for the upcoming school year.” Several weeks after the strike ended, Guerrero announced he would resign effective mid-February, after 6 1/2 years as superintendent, The Oregonian reported.