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THE GREAT DIVIDE

Following one-day strike, Malden teachers ratify new contract

Jessie Belfer, center, a history teacher at Malden High School, on Monday walked the picket line with fellow Malden educators on strike outside of Malden High School.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The Malden teachers union voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to ratify a new three-year contract with the school district after a tentative deal was struck earlier this week following a one-day strike.

Deb Gesualdo, president of the Malden Education Association, said 97 percent of the union’s more than 700 members voted to approve the contract, which includes raises for teachers and administrators and an entirely new pay scale for paraprofessionals that will “move them closer to a living wage.”

“There will be no paraprofessional in Malden Public Schools who makes $22,000 a year anymore,” Gesualdo said.

The contract also contains new language to determine the size of caseloads for school social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, and educators who provide special education services; plus a commitment from the School Committee to push back against evictions during the academic year, Gesualdo said.

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A final draft of the contract is currently being prepared, she said, and needs to be reviewed by the full School Committee.

Malden educators returned to the classroom Tuesday after walking the picket line Monday. Their daylong protest shuttered all campuses, and kept 6,100 students in Malden out of school.

In Haverhill, teachers have been on strike for three consecutive days, in violation of an Essex County Superior Court injunction ordering them to report back to work. The negotiations between the Haverhill Education Association and the School Committee over a new collective bargaining agreement remained deadlocked after talks went late Wednesday night, and the district announced on Facebook that schools would be closed for a fourth consecutive day on Thursday.

Public employees in Massachusetts, including teachers, are barred from striking. Following a hearing Wednesday, Judge James F. Lang held the Haverhill teachers union, along with the Massachusetts Teachers Association, in civil contempt of court for failing to comply with a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, demanding that they halt their strike.

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Lang ordered both organizations Wednesday to pay initial fines of $50,000. The fines will increase by $10,000 each day for as long as the unions continue their protest.


Deanna Pan can be reached at deanna.pan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @DDpan.