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Stoughton

Teachers sue over contract

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The Stoughton Teachers Union has filed a class action lawsuit in Dedham Superior Court against the town and several town officials, charging nonpayment of wages. The suit has named as defendants the Town of Stoughton, the School Committee, School Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi, and Town Manager Michael Hartman. The teachers are seeking damages for the nonpayment of approximately $450,000 in step raises since Sept 1, 2013, after the expiration of their contract, and asks payment of the raises, as well as triple damages and attorney costs. Union president Andrea Pires has estimated that the total cost of the suit, if successful, would be $1.5 million. The union said its suit follows the decision of the state Department of Labor Relations on May 22, in which the state agency found that the School Committee’s failure to pay step increases to eligible bargaining unit members until a new contract is signed violated state law. Pires said that as part of a tentative contract agreement reached last month after 14 months of negotiating, the union was willing to waive $50,000 in interest payments ordered by the state, withdraw other pending unfair labor practice charges, and not pursue the lawsuit. But on May 27, the School Committee, with Hartman also voting, deadlocked 3-3 on the contract, a decision Pires called “reckless and irresponsible.” Hartman did not respond to a request seeking comment. “Certainly I hope we will find a path forward and bridge the gap that divides us,” said School Committee Chairman Erdem Ural. “The biggest problem is the morale of the teachers has been eaten away by the process.”

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