Rumors of Haverhill Teachers Strike Leads to Pre-Emptive State Labor Relations Hearing Today

Members of the Haverhill Education Association teachers' union during 2019 contract talks. (Courtesy photograph.)

Persistent rumors that Haverhill teachers plan a Friday vote to determine whether to strike came to a head Thursday when the Haverhill School Committee filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Labor Relations Board.

The state responded by calling for a hearing this morning to learn more from both the School Committee and teachers’ union. Contacted Tuesday, Haverhill Education Association President Tim Briggs neither confirmed nor denied teachers, frustrated over the pace and results of contract renewal talks, would consider walking out on strike.

City negotiators, represented by School Committee members Scott W. Wood Jr., chairman, and Paul A. Magliocchetti, said the union’s revised salary increase offer “continues to be in no way affordable for the City of Haverhill and its residents.”

“The School Committee’s latest offer, if accepted, would give teachers the largest cost of living increase in over 20 years. It would also reward our most experienced educators with a further increase. This landmark offer underscores the importance we place on our teachers and staff. We attempted to continue to discuss financial proposals, but the HEA refused. Instead, they insisted on talking about language changes that we have already said we will not entertain. Contrary to the union’s rhetoric, our proposal is not ‘business as usual,’” Wood and Magliocchetti said in a statement Wednesday night.

State law “prohibits public employees and employee organizations from striking or inducing, encouraging, or condoning a work stoppage by public employees.”

With tensions rising, the school department this week prepared public messages in defense of its negotiating position. It said, among other things, the previous teachers’ contract provided a more than 10% raise, the “largest wage hike” in 22 years; the schools added more than 80 staff positions with COVID-19 relief money; and the union’s requested salary increases would be the highest in the state.

WHAV reached out to the union late and there was no immediate response in time for news deadline. Previously, however, Briggs told WHAV the union seeks to make up for seven years during the early years of Mayor James J. Fiorentini administration that teachers received no raises.

This is a developing story. Stay with 97.9 WHAV for updates.

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