State Reports Haverhill School Administrators Saw Leaked Union Documents, Scoured Staff Emails

Haverhill Education Association members and supporters rally during October 2022 at Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill schools are closed to students today because of a strike by members of the Haverhill Education Association, but school administrators are said to have received plenty of advance notice.

A Saturday ruling by the state Employment Relations Board ordering the union, its members and supporters to “cease and desist” from planning a strike, also revealed how administrators used various means to ensure they would not be taken by surprise. In its summary of events, the state said, school Superintendent Margaret Marotta received “hard copies” of union plans “slipped under her office door” and monitored staff email and files as early as Oct. 5 to learn of the union’s plans to conduct a strike vote. On Oct. 11, according to the state, school administrators found a document, “MAD-Crisis FAQ,” that building representative Christine Hickey shared to her school Google drive from her personal Gmail address.

The superintendent is also reported to have alerted Haverhill police “so that they could make preparations, if needed, should school need to be canceled or if other arrangements for children needed to be completed.”

The state began its investigation as early as last Wednesday. The Board concluded, “…the (Haverhill Education Association) and the employees that it represents are about to engage in a strike in violation of Section 9A(a) of the Law and that the (Massachusetts Teachers Association), the HEA and Tim Briggs, in his official capacity as HEA president, and Christine Hickey, in her official capacity as a HEA member and a HEA building representative have induced, encourage and condoned the strike.”

The Board also noted, as WHAV reported first in August, the local teachers’ union began to “work-to-rule” and suggested message similarities to a “Students for Teachers” walkout, also reported by WHAV early last month. Marotta is mentioned in a Board footnote as learning of “similar rumors in the Lawrence and Malden school districts.” Malden teachers also voted to strike Friday.

The Board also charged the strike vote being scheduled for a Friday afternoon “was deliberately designed to prevent the CERB from taking action at a time when it would be meaningful to do so.” It ordered the unions and individual representatives “shall immediately cease and desist from engaging or threatening to engage in a strike or work stoppage, slowdown or other withholding of services.”

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