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Woburn teachers union and School Committee make ‘significant progress,’ but no deal yet; school canceled for Friday

Parents, teachers and students rallied Wednesday on the Woburn Common in support of the teachers.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

The Woburn Teachers Association said Thursday night that “significant progress” has been made in contract negotiations with Mayor Scott Galvin and the School Committee but that a tentative agreement was not reached.

Schools will be closed on Friday, the union and Woburn School Committee said in separate statements.

“Significant progress was made on the teachers’ contract from today’s negotiation talks,” said WTA President Barbara Locke. “This was one of the most productive days that we’ve had.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday night, Galvin said “We made some significant progress.”

He said negotiations will resume at 10 a.m. Friday. “A long day at the table today,” Galvin said, according to a recording of his remarks provided by a spokeswoman. “We’ll be back at the table tomorrow.”


Locke said union negotiators expect to reach a tentative agreement on Friday.

“We are optimistic and expect that a tentative agreement and a return-to-work agreement will be reached on Friday. WTA educators are eager to being back in school on Monday with an agreement in hand,” Locke said.

In its statement, the School Committee and Galvin confirmed school will be closed on Friday, the fifth straight day of the teachers strike.

“School will be closed on Friday, Feb. 3, as members of the Woburn Teachers Association continue their illegal strike action,” the statement said.

“Friday marks the fifth consecutive day that Woburn’s 4,200-plus students have had their education disrupted, and the fifth day their parents and guardians have been inconvenienced unfairly,” the statement said.

Failed contract negotiations last weekend prompted hundreds of Woburn educators to begin their strike on Monday, leading to the closure of all 10 schools. Massachusetts teachers are barred from striking under state law and could face fines for violating the order.

A Middlesex Superior Court judge ruled on Wednesday that the Woburn Teachers Association and Locke, as president, violated an injunction issued Monday that ordered them to end the strike and instructed teachers to return to the classroom.


In its statement, the School Committee and Galvin urged the union to abide by the court rulings.

“We once again urge teachers to follow both the court and state rulings that have ordered them back to work, and to resume providing high-quality educational opportunities to the children of Woburn,” the statement said.

Negotiations between the association which represents over 500 teachers, nurses, teacher aides, and others, and district leaders have been ongoing for more than a year.

The union has been pushing for smaller class sizes, twice-a-week physical education classes for elementary school students, and pay raises for educators and paraprofessionals, or teacher aides.

Pay increases for the paraprofessionals has become a flashpoint not only in Woburn, but across the state in negotiations between unions and their district and city leaders. The aides in Woburn have a base salary of $22,000 and the union asked for it to increase to $27,000.

Galvin and the School Committee said information about their proposals is available online at a frequently asked questions document.

Adria Watson can be reached at adria.watson@globe.com. Follow her @adriarwatson.