Malden teacher strike ends after one day, Haverhill schools to close again

Classes were cancelled in both districts Monday, as educators say they are fighting for livable wages and more.

Pauline Piandee, who works in Haverhill as an education support professional, holds her second grader Christopher, 7, and cheers outside of Haverhill City Hall as she and her fellow striking educators rally on Monday. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

Teachers in Malden and Haverhill went on strike Monday after negotiations over the weekend between public school officials and the educators broke down. Schools in both districts were closed to start the week, but classes will resume in Malden on Tuesday.

The Malden School Committee and the Malden Education Association reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract on Monday night, the district announced.

“We know that this period of uncertainty has been difficult for parents, students, and staff. We are hopeful that the proposal that received preliminary approval at the bargaining table tonight marks the beginning of a new chapter for our school district, in which we all move forward together to engage in the vital work of teaching and learning,” school officials said in a statement.


Haverhill Public Schools announced that classes would once again be cancelled Tuesday. Superintendent Margaret Marotta said in a statement that negotiations were ongoing at 5:30 p.m.

“Progress continues, but frustrations can be seen on both sides and no agreement has been reached,” she said.

Under Massachusetts law, public employees are not allowed to strike. The Commonwealth Employment Relations Board filed a complaint Monday aimed at stopping the Haverhill strike. The court then issued a temporary restraining order against the Haverhill Education Association to immediately cease and desist from their work stoppage. This order could become an injunction at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Essex County Superior Court, WBUR reported. 

Teachers in both cities said that they are fighting for higher pay, a safe working environment, educator-directed planning time, and smaller class sizes. Another priority for Malden teachers was securing a commitment to students ensuring that “housing insecurity won’t be a barrier to academic success.” Union representatives from Haverhill are also pushing for a “clear, district-wide evaluation process.”

Deb Gesualdo, president of the Malden Education Association, told The Boston Globe that salaries for paraprofessionals created an impasse. First year pay for paraprofessionals in Malden starts between $20,761.53 and $29,788.52, according to their most recent contract. On Sunday, the Malden School Committee proposed a 24% increase for paraprofessional wages. Annual salaries would start at a minimum of $30,000. 


“We know that we have to come to an agreement, but also want the public to know the commitment our negotiating team has made in presenting an unprecedented offer that reflects the importance we place on education,” the Malden School Committee said in a statement before the tentative agreement was reached. 

Negotiations took place in Haverhill Monday morning, according to the Globe, but ended just before 11:30 a.m. A spokesperson from the Haverhill School Committee told the paper that talks were scheduled to end at 10 a.m. 

The strikes come after teachers unions in both cities voted overwhelmingly in favor of the work stoppage on Friday. Both the Haverhill Education Association and the Malden Education Association are members of the statewide Massachusetts Teachers Association. The MTA’s Board of Directors said that it “stands in solidarity with both unions. 

“In Malden and Haverhill, our members are fighting for the common good. When school committees fail to settle fair contracts, they disrespect not only educators, but also the students and the communities that depend on our public schools. Malden and Haverhill are saying enough is enough,” the Board said in a statement Saturday. 


Hundreds rallied in Haverhill and Malden over the weekend in support of the striking teachers. Rallies continued Monday, with Senator Ed Markey joining union representatives in Malden to advocate for favorable new contracts. 

“Our communities need educators who have the resources to put students first, including fair wages and protections. I believe a fair and equitable agreement can be reached,” Markey wrote in a Twitter post. 

Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that labor relations officials from the state were actively involved in mediating negotiations in both cities. Baker reiterated that striking is against the law, and said he hoped agreements could be reached soon, WBUR reported.


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