A Massachusetts teachers’ union is in its second week of an illegal strike, even though it’s racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for doing so.
The Newton Teacher Association (NTA) began its strike on Jan. 19, demanding better wages and more support staff. City officials say the union’s demands aren’t fiscally sustainable.
“The union is demanding raises that they know the City cannot afford,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a press release. “Agreeing to the NTA demands would mean laying off teachers and/or other City employees.”
In the same press release, the Newton school board accused the union of being unwilling to compromise.
“The NTA proposal was neither affordable nor sustainable,” the board explained. “The NTA President stated their package proposal ‘was take it or leave it,’ and walked out of the room without any discussion or negotiation, and was unwilling to consider the School Committee’s proposal.
“This was not bargaining in good faith,” it concluded.
Why isn’t that enough motivation to get teachers back in the classroom?
“The price of an illegal strike to a union is often negated by the financial gains these unions will see by taking a percentage of increased teacher wages,” Ashley Varner, vice president of Communication and Federal Affairs at the Freedom Foundation, previously told The Lion. “Strikes like this show exactly why unions got into this business to begin with. It isn’t to improve education or to help children. It’s money.”
One Newton parent was so fed up with the strike that she filed a lawsuit against the union.
“I just decided enough is enough,” said Lital Asher-Dotan. “As time goes and the routine has completely gone away, the kids become worried about the academics.”
Other city leaders agree the strike is harming students.
“This strike has to end,” pleaded City Council President Marc Laredo on Tuesday. “We need to get our kids back in the classroom and we need to do it now. Our children are suffering because they are not in school.”
Regardless, the NTA appears to be fully dedicated to its strike, no matter the financial or academic costs.
At a rally on Wednesday, National Education Association President Becky Pringle egged on educators to continue holding public education hostage until the union’s demands are met.
“They cannot afford to not listen to your voices, because you have dedicated your lives to ensuring that our students, every one of them, has what they need and what they deserve,” she said. “What they can’t afford is to lose the highly qualified educators who are in this district.”