After a four-day teacher’s strike, Haverhill public schools are back open as the local teacher’s union and the school committee have reached a tentative agreement for a new teacher’s contract.
“The agreement includes increased pay for teachers, without placing an undue burden on taxpayers. It also addresses union concerns about classroom safety, while maintaining management rights and protecting student rights to privacy,” the Haverhill school committee said in a statement today.
The deal between the teacher’s union and the school committee was made a little before 11 p.m. on Thursday. Since the deal was made so late, bus service would not available for Haverhill school students, the school committee said. Students are allowed to report to class at the convenience of their families. Students who are absent will be excused for not reporting to class.
“After many hours of negotiation, and back and forth, we were able to strike a finalized deal very recently,” Scott Wood of the Haverhill School Committee said during a press conference Thursday night. “We are extremely excited to get the teachers back in the classroom, get our students back where they belong in the classrooms. And let them do what they do best – educate kids.”
The Haverhill school committee has been forced to shut down school since Monday – the day the city’s teachers went on strike. Since then, the school and the union have been going back and forth on negotiations for a contract.
“With this contract we won a financial package that represents a substantial investment in our public schools, closing a damaging wage gap between Haverhill educators and educators in other districts,” said Tim Briggs, president of the HEA. “We won language that addresses student safety, we won language to develop a more diverse teaching force, all of these are tremendous benefits to the 8,000 students in Haverhill Public Schools.”
The school committee has also stated that the HEA will be reimbursing the school department for the costs of the strike.
In Massachusetts, it is illegal for teachers to go on strike, as they are public employees. On Oct. 17, an Essex County Superior Court judge ordered the Haverhill teachers to stop striking. Despite the judge’s orders, the teachers continued their strike.
On Wednesday, the judge ordered that the HEA pay a fine of $50,000, according to CBS. The Massachusetts Teachers Association faces a $250,000 fine. The unions would have to pay $10,000 for each day the strike continued.
The HEA has also agreed to fund a scholarship program for underprivileged students, the school committee said.
“The courageous educators of the HEA withstood politically motivated attacks and legal manipulations designed to undermine their union and the labor movement more generally,” The MTA said in a statement. “While the other side played games, the HEA built on strong relationships with families and the whole Haverhill community. This struggle for a fair contract has strengthened powerful bonds between educators and parents that will benefit the public schools for years to come.”