January 29, 2024

Auchincloss urges two sides to settle Newton teachers strike

Congressman calls walkout ‘disruptive and unfair’ to students and families

WITH THE NEWTON teachers strike now in its seventh day, US Rep. Jake Auchincloss says it’s time to get back to class.

In a statement on Monday, the Newton Democrat called the strike “disruptive and unfair to our children, and their parents” and urged the two sides to reach an agreement and have schools reopen on Tuesday. 

Auchincloss didn’t take sides in the dispute, voicing concern for students and families that have seen schools closed for more than a week and for teachers, saying they “deserve to feel valued in a city that prides itself on its schools.”

The strike, illegal under Massachusetts law, is the latest in a string of teacher walkouts since 2022. Previously, teachers walked off the job in Andover, Brookline, Haverhill, Malden, and Woburn. The labor actions have often led to quick resolution of contract issues, emboldening teachers elsewhere to consider taking to the picket line when contract talks have stalled. 

A Middlesex County judge ordered Newton teachers to end their strike by 8 pm Sunday or face fines of $50,000 per day on top of the $375,000 the union has already been fined. 

The city and union appear to be far apart, with Newton leaders saying the city can’t afford the teachers’ contract demands without making cuts to other services to laying off school personnel, while the union insists the city has the capacity to meet its demands. 

Auchincloss didn’t wade into the details of the negotiations, but urged the two sides to reach a deal. 

“For the good of our city – for our families, our educators, and most of all, for our students, I am imploring both parties to ensure that schools are open tomorrow,” Auchincloss said in his statement. 

His statement stands in contrast to that of US Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Boston, who has taken the teachers’ side in the dispute. 

At the outset of the strike, Pressley, who represents the neighboring congressional district, called on the city to meet the union demands. “I urge Mayor [Ruthanne] Fuller and the Newton School Committee to immediately come to the table, invest in our educators, and fully fund the schools Newton deserves,” she said in a statement.

By:  Michael Jonas
Source: CommonWealth Beacon