WOBURN, MASS. (WHDH) – Schools in Woburn will be closed for a second straight day on Tuesday as a teacher strike continues amid negotiations over a new contract.
News of the second day without school came after teachers could be seen rallying outside City Hall, with hundreds of people holding signs and cheering as traffic passed – all part of an effort to seek a new contract as school officials turned to the courts after negotiations hit an impasse.
At the same time, a complaint for injunctive relief was filed in court, naming the Woburn Teachers Association as defendants. With arguments being made in court late into the afternoon, the judge assigned the case indicated a decision would be made soon, though an exact timetable was not given.
“I am personally willing to stand with my brothers and sisters in this union and fight for what we believe is right,” said teacher Christy Nickerson when asked if she was willing to keep striking in the face of a court order.
The decision would come after Woburn Public Schools were closed Monday, after a full day of negotiations between the city and the Woburn Teachers Association (WTA) failed to produce a new contract and avoid a strike over the weekend.
Woburn’s mayor told 7NEWS he feels the city has made a fair offer to educators, including a more than 10 percent raise for teachers over three years. He said the teachers demanded more.
“The teachers countered with an offer of 14.75 percent, which is outrageous,” Mayor Scott Galvin said.
The teachers have also been demanding the city negotiate a new contract for paraprofessionals at the same time as the teacher talks, stating the current starting salary for paraprofessionals is around $22,000.
They are fighting to raise that base pay to $27,000.
“We have made them a priority because they are not making a living wage at this point and we think that is completely unfair,” Nickerson said.
The city, meanwhile, argues that paraprofessional contracts have always been negotiated separately.
Although school was cancelled on Monday, free lunches were still available at Woburn Public Schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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