The Quincy Education Association on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a vote of no confidence in Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, the culmination of months of growing frustration over stalled contract talks.
Educators in the district have been working without a contract for over 190 days. The union said in a statement that 98 percent of its 900 members supported the no-confidence vote.
The union is asking for salary increases for educators, increased preparation time given to teachers, and for the district to cover two weeks of parental leave.
“We have been trying to make the public aware that we see needs in our schools that might not be made apparent by the district, the city, and the mayor,” said Gayle Carvalho, president of the Quincy Education Association. “Our sole goal is to settle this contract in a fair and equitable manner, and to provide the best public education for nearly 10,000 students in Quincy.”
Carvalho added that Koch has the power to settle the contract because he controls the finances in the city, and the union feels he is the one stalling progress.
Koch said he found the vote “peculiar,” since both sides agreed to go to mediation, which started on Thursday.
He believes district officials have been fair during negotiations, but said the city can’t give the teachers everything they want.
“I‘ve been in this business a while, and I understand there has to be movement, but I also have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Quincy,” Koch said. “The whole idea is to negotiate in good faith at the table and to try to bang it out, and I hope we can do that.”
In the past year, districts across Massachusetts have seen increasing unrest among teachers. A variety of factors have fueled their frustration, including low pay for teachers’ aides and deteriorating mental health among many students and staff.
Massachusetts teachers are barred from striking under state law and could face fines for violating the order. But the Massachusetts Teachers Association is seeking to make such actions legal.
More teacher unions have been willing to break the law and ignore court injunctions in effort to secure higher salaries and better working conditions. Schools in Brookline, Haverhill, Malden, and Woburn were closed within the last year due to strikes for one to five days in those districts before the unions and school officials reached settlements.
Adria Watson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @adriarwatson.