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Newton Teachers Association announces strike amid contract disputes

Michael+Zilles%2C+NTA+President%2C+speaks+on+the+unions+decision+to+strike+Thursday%2C+Jan.+18.
Gabe Kolodner
Michael Zilles, NTA President, speaks on the union’s decision to strike Thursday, Jan. 18.

“We need a mayor, we need a leader, we need the political leaders of this city, the school committee, the city counsel to stand up behind us and say enough is enough.”

— Michael Zilles, NTA President

Members of the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) gathered on the front steps of City Hall this afternoon, initiating a strike following lengthy and unsuccessful contract negotiations with the Newton School Committee.

“In the face of adversity, the NTA stands united, ready to settle this contract. We’ve endured lies, deception, and bad faith bargaining, but we will no longer allow the exploitation of our labor,” said Michael Zilles, NTA President.

After over a year of negotiations marked by persistent disagreements on paraprofessional salaries, parental leave, and compensation for substitute teachers, among other issues, a resounding 98 percent of the 1,641 union members voted virtually in favor of the strike, scheduled to begin tomorrow. The committee convened behind closed doors later in the evening to discuss the next steps.

Superintendent Anna Nolin announced the closure of all NPS buildings for the strike’s duration, along with the cancellation of school-related events and activities.

Several NTA members and supporters spoke about the union’s decision to strike at the City Hall press conference following the vote.

“It is not the responsibility of educators to subsidize what this city wants to provide in services by taking an effective pay cut against the exploding cost of living,” said Bill Humphrey, Newton City Councilor.

Zilles added, “We need a mayor, we need a leader, we need the political leaders of this city, the school committee, the city council to stand up behind us and say enough is enough.”

Following the press conference, the committee issued an email stating their focus is quickly returning students to the classroom.

“We will do everything possible to reach a competitive agreement that both honors our educators and provides program improvements and necessary support for our students,” according to the committee’s statement.

“We will do everything possible to reach a competitive agreement that both honors our educators and provides program improvements and necessary support for our students.”

— Newton School Commitee

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller described the union’s decision to strike as “disturbing” in an email update this evening.

“This will be unbelievably difficult and stressful for our children and our families/caregivers,” she added.

The committee filed a “strike petition” with the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations earlier this week, according to Fuller. The Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) conducted a hearing where evidence was presented regarding an unlawful strike. The CERB has yet to take action but aims to issue a decision promptly.

“I am heartbroken that the failure of negotiations has led to this moment,” said Superintendent Anna Nolin in an email earlier today. “This is detrimental to the health and well-being of our students, and they should always be our first priority.”

Stay tuned for further updates on The Newtonite.

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About the Contributors
Maddie Ngo, News editor
Maddie Ngo is currently a freshman at Newton North High School. One of her passions is competitive rock climbing, and she represents the Freshman class on Newton North High School's SFA. In her free time, she likes to *try* to learn languages. At the moment, she is learning Spanish and Vietnamese, the latter of which is spoken by much of her extended family. Maddie also enjoys reading and baking with her family and friends. Maddie has two pets, a dog named Izzy and a lizard named Spotsir (because he has spots). Maddie has always loved climbing things, rock climbing just happened to be her parents' way of keeping her out of the neighbors trees. Her favorite subjects in school are Science, English and Spanish. She is looking forward to a great year on Volume 102!
Gabe Kolodner, Photo Managing Editor
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