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Teachers’ strike marks seventh day with progress in ongoing negotiations

Orlando Christian
Union members gather at NTA rally in front of City Hall Thursday, Jan. 25.

Members of the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) continued to picket Thursday, Jan. 25, their seventh day of strike, reporting progress at the negotiation table following their mediation session yesterday. 

Negotiations, ongoing since noon between the NTA and the Newton School Committee, are showing continuous progress, according to Ryan Normandin, a South teacher and member of the negotiations committee.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 24, the committee extended their Cost of Living Adjustment proposal to include a fourth year for all units, although the specific percentage increase each year is still pending. Parties are also working towards establishing a 60-day parental leave policy.

Substitute coverage, social workers, Unit C hours, paid family medical leave, and increased prep time for elementary school teachers, among several other issues, are all areas that have yet to be settled. 

“All the things that we’re asking for are fundamental to supporting the diverse roles of educators, to deliver the best possible service that we can to students in Newton,” said biology teacher Karen Tokos. 

According to English teacher Mike Schlegelmilch, an NTA member, union members visited City Hall this morning to try to engage with Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. The union was informed that Fuller was in meetings all day and unavailable. According to Schlegelmilch, Fuller should be in the Bargaining room until a fair contract is created. 

The Mayor’s office and the committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“Failing to pay the staff that work with them a living wage is failing to support students with disabilities’ education,” said John Curley, a South Special Education teacher and speaker at the union rally Thursday, Jan. 25. “To Mayor Fuller and everyone else serving platitudes about excellence and equity, put up or shut up.”

Negotiations will continue into the evening as long as progress is being made, according to Mike Zilles, NTA President. Otherwise, parties will adjourn at 7 p.m.

According to math teacher Caroline Vuilleumier, “It’s incremental progress, which is positive, but I think there’s still a very long way to go. When we fight, we will win.” 

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