Public school teachers in Brookline voted Thursday night to authorize a strike beginning Monday if the union and the School Committee do not reach a deal on a new contract over the weekend, the Brookline Educators Union said in a statement.
The union said its members voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of authorizing a strike. They are seeking increases in pay, improved working conditions, and for the school district to hire and retain more teachers of color, the statement said.
“Brookline has been taking advantage of its front-line educators [and] their goodwill and their dedication, and it’s got to stop,” union president Jessica Wender-Shubow said in a phone interview Thursday night, following the vote.
The Brookline School Committee said in a statement that it met for “several hours in executive session” Thursday night to discuss the union’s offer, which it received on Tuesday, and is preparing a counterproposal.
“During our public meeting tonight, we learned that the BEU has voted to strike on Monday, May 16, if no agreement is reached over the weekend. We are hopeful that we will reach an agreement before then,” the statement said, which was issued late Thursday night.
The School Committee said it is working with Superintendent Linus Guillory to prepare “contingency plans should the BEU strike.”
On Wednesday, Guillory sent a message to the Brookline school community to warn families of possible disruptions to school operations if union members go on strike.
“Strikes by public employees, including educators, are illegal in Massachusetts, and more importantly these types of actions disrupt, interrupt and harm the one purpose that we are all called to do: educate children,” the message read.
The union represents more than 1,000 educators, Wender-Shubow said.
Wender-Shubow said the union is calling for the contract to include a daily 40-minute block of “duty-free” time for teachers to have time to “gather their wits about them and catch up.”
“Some teachers can go from the time they arrive before 8 a.m. to 2:30 or 3:30 p.m. without one break,” she said, noting that this is common among teachers with younger students. “They barely get their lunch, and sometimes nothing.”
The sides are scheduled to resume negotiations in a meeting on Saturday, she said. The union is planning to hold a rally at Brookline Town Hall on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m., the statement said.
“We hope we’ll have a deal Saturday night,” she said.