Thursday, 4:30 PM
Judge orders Quincy teachers back to work
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
QUINCY - Quincy teachers said today they will defy a court injunction ordering them back to work Tuesday and continue their holdout over a bitter contract dispute, sending the first teacher strike in Massachusetts in more than a decade into its third day.
A Norfolk County Superior Court judge issued the injunction this afternoon as the two sides headed back to the negotiating table in an effort to end the strike, which began Friday. The talks were expected to last well into tonight, but teachers said there was little chance an agreement would be reached in time for classes at the district's 19 schools to be held Tuesday.
The court could fine the teachers union, the 890-member Quincy Teachers Association, if it flouts the injunction, according to John F. Jesensky, the chairman of the state labor relations commission, which sought the injunction. Teachers’ strikes are illegal in Massachusetts. A lawyer for the Quincy School Committee said the board also sought the injunction so it could potentially seek damages against the union.
Teachers, who picketed in downtown Quincy today to protest the stalled negotiations, said the court ruling would not influence contract negotiations or convince teachers to return to the classroom.
"We're pretty committed to this," said Linda Monaco, a sixth-grade reading teacher. Teachers, who voted overwhelmingly last Thursday to walk off the job, will return to the picket line today, she said.
Union president Paul Phillips criticized school and city officials for dragging their feet in negotiations, which began 15 months ago. “It is clear to us that they are more interested right now in punishing the teachers than they are in getting Quincy’s students back to school," he said in a statement.
At a City Hall press conference today, Quincy Mayor William Phelan said he would not cave in to the union's demands and urged teachers to return to school while talks continue.
"The law is clear, this is an illegal action," he said. "You have let down the children of the Quincy school system."