scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Governor Healey opposes legalizing teacher strikes, says kids need to be in schools

Governor Maura Healey.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Governor Maura Healey is against legalizing teacher strikes in the state, she said in an interview with WBZ-TV that aired Sunday.

“Every day when I see kids out of school because of a strike, my heart just breaks because kids have been through enough in terms of learning loss and the like,” Healey told WBZ political analyst Jon Keller.

Massachusetts is one of 37 states in the nation where teacher strikes are illegal — something the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which is the state’s largest teachers union and which endorsed Healey in last year’s election, is trying to change.


The union plans to file legislation this month that would grant teachers and other public sector employees the right to strike, an effort that mirrors recent pushes nationwide for organized labor rights. Healey said she thinks this is a bad idea.

“I’m not a fan,” Healey said. “While I have a lot of sympathy and want to make sure that ... educators are getting paid what they should for the important work that they do, it’s still paramount that our kids be in schools.”

Her comments come as teachers in Woburn return to their classrooms Monday after a Middlesex Superior Court judge ordered them to end a weeklong strike that cancelled classes for thousands of students last week.

Max Page, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, or MTA, said that while union members “disagree strenuously” with the governor, they believe she may reconsider her stance.

“I think when we educate her further about the bill in particular, and have her meet with our members who have chosen to [strike], ... that she might be able to change her mind,” Page said.

Proponents of teacher strikes argue that the ability to walk picket lines provides needed leverage for teachers to reach agreements with school systems regarding contracts and working conditions. Page said that the right to strike is paramount to unions’ ability to convince public employers to bargain in good faith.


“One of the things that I think the public doesn’t understand is how tilted against the workers is our collective bargaining system in the public sector,” Page said. “We believe that if there is the right to strike, then it will force the employer to start bargaining seriously at the very beginning.”

Page agreed with Healey that children need teachers in the classroom to continue learning, but stressed that the decision to strike is not easy for educators.

“Kids do need to learn, be in school. No educator anywhere ... ever said, ‘I’m looking forward to being on strike. I really want to be on strike,’” Page said. “What they did is made a decision that at some point, they had to take a stand on issues that would make the schools better now and well into the future.”

Sonel Cutler can be reached at Follow her @cutler_sonel.