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Woburn teachers to strike today after contract talks fail to reach deal Sunday

Woburn Teachers’ Association says another bargaining session is planned for Monday morning

Educators and their supporters gathered for a rally at Woburn Common on Saturday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

More than 500 Woburn educators are expected to walk the picket line Monday morning after a last-ditch effort by union and School Committee negotiators failed to broker a deal for a long-sought contract Sunday.

The strike means no classes Monday for Woburn’s roughly 4,300 public school students.

Contract talks have been going on for more than a year between the School Committee and the Woburn Teachers’ Association including teachers, nurses, and paraprofessionals, who have been working without a contract since August.

Barbara Locke, the union president, said in a statement Sunday night that Mayor Scott Galvin and the School Committee “showed a complete unwillingness to negotiate the paraprofessional contract or offer them a living wage.”


The two sides met for about eight hours of negotiations Sunday at Joyce Middle School, according to the Woburn Teachers Association.

Another negotiation session is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, the statement said.

Sixth grader Bianca Buonopane (right) offerred support to her educators during a teachers rally at Woburn Common in Woburn on Saturday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

“We could’ve gotten this contract settled tonight. Unfortunately their reckless refusal to continue negotiations tonight means the planned strike will start on Monday,” Locke said. “We, at the WTA, hope that a resolution can be reached on Monday so that the educators of Woburn can return to doing what they love, which is getting back in the classroom to teach the children of Woburn.”

In a statement Sunday night, the School Committee and Galvin said: “Though we felt that today’s session was productive and continue to believe that our offer is fair, we did not reach an agreement with the WTA.”

Woburn Public Schools families have been contacted informing them that classes are canceled on Monday district-wide, the statement said.

“It remains our mission to find a resolution that is mutually beneficial, fair to all stakeholders and will ensure a high-quality education for the students of Woburn,” the school leaders said.

Public teacher strikes are illegal under Massachusetts state law. But educator unions in several other communities in recent months have managed to hammer out contract agreements after authorizing strikes.


In recent months, teachers unions in communities including Brookline and Malden reached agreements with their school districts following one-day strikes, while Melrose educators were able to finalize a contract before a planned strike began.

In Haverhill, educators walked the picket line for nearly a week before reaching a deal in October with school administrators.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association has backed proposed legislation allowing educators and some workers to strike.

The union’s goals for the contract include pay increases for education support professionals, smaller class sizes, and twice-a-week physical education classes for elementary school students, the educators union has said.

Woburn Teachers Association President Barbara Locke (center) announced Friday a labor strike will begin on Monday if an acceptable contract agreement can’t be reached with the Woburn School Committee and Mayor Scott Galvin.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The most recent agreement, reached in January 2021, included a 1 percent pay increase for one year, union leaders have said.

The School Committee and Galvin, in a joint statement Friday, said their mission was to develop a contract that is fair for students, staff, and Woburn residents. They said their last proposal, made Jan. 18, allows for reduced class sizes and more instructional time for students.

It would include a wage increase that would come on top of step increases that about half of school staff received at the start of the school year, plus “additional collaborative professional development,” they said.

Union members voted Friday to authorize a strike Monday if they did not reach an agreement with the School Committee.


Hundreds of educators and their supporters rallied Saturday on Woburn Common, where several speakers at the event blamed the lack of a contract on Galvin.

Shortly before Saturday’s rally, the School Committee and Galvin, who have opposed a work stoppage, announced that the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board concluded the Woburn Teachers’ Association was about to engage in a strike in violation of state law.

“Please know that the committee respects the tremendous effort, talent, and dedication of our teachers, but a strike is both illegal and counterproductive,” the committee and Galvin said in a statement Friday.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.