Schools to Remain Closed to Students Tuesday; Judge Rules Against Teachers in First Volley

Haverhill Education Association members and supporters at Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News photograph.)

This continues to be a developing story. More to follow.

Haverhill schools remain closed to students Tuesday as a teachers’ strike continues in defiance of a cease-and-desist order issued Monday by an Essex County Superior Court judge.

Judge James F. Lang allowed a temporary restraining order as requested by the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board and Haverhill School Committee. However, Lang, sitting in Newburyport, withheld a request for an injunction against Haverhill Education Association, Massachusetts Teachers Association and union leadership until a Tuesday hearing. Lang wrote there is a “clear likelihood” a preliminary injunction will be issued and he would consider doing so after allowing the unions to be heard.

“It is also clear to the court that the plaintiffs (labor board and School Committee), and more particularly, the 8,000 students in the Haverhill school system whose interests are the responsibility of the School Committee, will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if the requested temporary injunctive relief is not granted.”

Lang ordered the Haverhill union and its leadership to notify teachers of “their obligation to refrain from any form of a strike or work stoppage.”

According to court documents, Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta provided evidence the Haverhill union and its Malden counterpart planned strikes even after a state order Friday prohibiting such actions. This included notice of “Rolling Rallies” Saturday in both Haverhill and Malden with Massachusetts Teachers Association President Max Page listed as a guest at the Malden rally.

A late afternoon statement by Page and MTA Vice President Deb McCarthy made no mention of the court action, but acknowledged the working relationship between teachers’ unions.

“Educators in Haverhill, Malden and several other communities north of Boston meet regularly to discuss their working conditions and their students’ learning conditions. Malden and Haverhill union members came to realize they shared many of the same concerns. And they of course subscribe to the greatest union value — solidarity.”

The statement adds, teachers want to be back in their classrooms, but the cities can make that “possible by bargaining in good faith and ending the delays in reaching fair contracts.”

School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti, who serves with negotiating team Chairman Scott W. Wood Jr., said the Haverhill union walked out of talks Sunday to consult with its members. He charged the statewide union is calling the shots.

“The problem is the HEA leadership doesn’t know what to do because when they’re in negotiations they have four MTA reps breathing down their neck, trying to drag this out to move the statewide MTA agenda forward,” he said.

The superintendent said in an email late Monday afternoon that teachers and staff are still required to come to work and participate in professional development. She thanked, in her words, “the dedicated Haverhill staff who came to work today despite the controversy.”

Boston attorney David M. Connelly, representing the Haverhill School Committee successfully argued the city could intervene in the state labor board complaint.

In addition to previously identified meal sources for children,  the Haverhill YWCA is open to students already registered in before or after-school programs from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Those seeking more information may call Amy Desimone at 978-374-6121 or email her at  [email protected].

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