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‘This takes courage.’ Sanders, Kennedy, Mass. senators back Dedham teachers amid strike

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III spoke to striking teachers in Dedham.
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III spoke to striking teachers in Dedham. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, and both of Massachusetts’ US senators expressed support for striking Dedham teachers on Friday, with Sanders tweeting, “This takes courage.”

The expressions of support came as Dedham teachers picketed in the first formal public school teacher strike in Massachusetts in 12 years. The teachers are striking over disagreements with administrators over pay, sexual harassment policies, health care coverage, and policies covering student cellphone use. Classes in Dedham were canceled Friday.

Kennedy paid a visit to the strikers Friday morning, speaking through a bullhorn.

“It’s not too much to ask that your needs are going to be met,” Kennedy said. “In me, you have an ally, you have a champion.”

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He later praised the teachers in a tweet.

Kennedy’s congressional district does not include Dedham, though he’s challenging Senator Ed Markey to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate.

In a tweet late Friday afternoon, Markey called the teachers “courageous” and said he stood with them in the strike. A spokesperson said Friday he did not visit the strikers because of a scheduling conflict.

Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, said on Twitter that the teachers’ strike was part of a “movement” of workers “taking back their power at a scale we have not seen in recent memory.”

Sanders appeared to be the first candidate in the field to publicly express support for the striking Dedham teachers in a tweet.

Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her support of the Dedham teachers from her senate account on Friday afternoon.

Democratic politicians have often expressed support for labor action in Massachusetts and elsewhere, with several stopping by the picket lines of striking Stop & Shop workers earlier this year.

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John R. Ellement and Brian MacQuarrie of the Globe staff contributed.