Metro, Politics, Newton

Judge Orders Newton Teachers to End Strike

A Middlesex Superior Court judge granted an injunction against the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) to end its strike or risk legal consequences on Friday. The union voted to strike on Thursday, closing all Newton Public Schools on Friday.

On Tuesday, the Newton School Committee (NSC) filed a petition to investigate the NTA for a potential strike, and the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board ruled the NTA was engaging in illegal strike behavior on Friday.

In an email to Newton community members, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller warned of legal consequences if the NTA does not publicly announce the end of the strike by 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

“If the negotiations over the weekend do not lead to a settled contract or the NTA chooses to ignore the Judge’s order and continues its strike on Monday, the Superior Court has set a hearing for Monday, January 22 at noon,” Fuller wrote.

Teachers and community members demonstrated at City Hall on Friday and at the Education Center and City Hall on Saturday in support of the NTA. Ashley Raven, a teacher at Newton Early Childhood Program, said the strike is necessary to secure a fair contract for teachers.

“We understand that this is a disruption,” Raven said. “We also believe that short-term disruption sometimes is necessary in order to secure the educational programming and sustained educational excellence that the students, teachers, and parents of Newton deserve.”

The NSC and NTA concluded their first day of negotiations during the strike late Friday evening. According to Raven, the NSC and NTA reached two tentative agreements, both related to educator evaluations.

“We started with items that we believed there is a good chance we could potentially reach agreement on to get the ball rolling,” Raven said. “And we were successful. We ended the night with two tentative agreements to break the logjam.”

Denise Cremin, a teacher at Newton North High School said the NTA came to the bargaining table with a contract proposal on Friday, while the NSC did not.

“The idea that they came in without a proposal is confusing to the teachers,” Cremin said. “It’s frustrating and confusing to the students. We all want to get back in the classroom.”

In an email to community members on Friday, Fuller called on the NTA to end the strike. 

“We call on the NTA to follow the law,” Fuller said. “Engage with Newton’s elected School Committee which is ready and waiting to settle a competitive, sustainable agreement. Illegal actions harm our kids and disrupt the lives of our families and caregivers.”

Raven said the NTA is eager to get back to school once a contract is settled.

“We are absolutely prepared to settle the contract,” Raven said. “We want to get back in our classrooms as soon as possible. And we look forward to continued bargaining with the school committee to make that happen.”

January 21, 2024