WOBURN, MASS. (WHDH) - Woburn teachers could face thousands of dollars in fines after continuing a strike despite a legal order to return to the classroom.
The city is asking a judge to fine the teachers $50,000 a day with an increase of $10,000 per day that they continue to strike. A hearing on that was initially scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday as students stayed home for the third day in a row.
The teachers association and the school committee have been working out details on a new contract, prompting school officials to turn to the courts after negotiations hit an impasse.
The judge assigned to the case issued a ruling late Monday night ordering teachers back to the classroom. There had been no ruling as of Wednesday evening around 6 p.m. on the city of Woburn’s request for fines.
Woburn Teachers Association President Barbara Locke said on Wednesday that proposed fines would deplete the WTA’s bank account.
“[W]e wouldn’t be able to do business and be a union and do the jobs we do,” Locke said.
Mayor Scott Galvin said school committee negotiators were getting “unreasonable” offers from the WTA in ongoing talks.
Despite the continued strike, representatives from both sides said progress was made on Tuesday, starting with the city agreeing to negotiate the salaries of teachers and paraprofessionals as one total package.
Mayor Galvin said on Tuesday the city had a deal on the table for paraprofessionals that would provide an increase in excess of 40 percent over the three years. The mayor also extended the day by 10 minutes for development and increased his offer for teacher salaries to a 10.75 percent raise over the next three years, which the WTA agreed to.
“We came down to his cost of living adjustment, which was 10.75,” said WTA President Barbara Locke. “We don’t know why they just stopped negotiating.”
Teacher strikes are against the law in Massachusetts. When a judge Tuesday asked the WTA why they continue strike when the court ordered them back to work, they said its the city that continues to cancel school.
“These children are out of school and we didn’t want that,” Locke said.
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