After years of unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a new contract, the teachers of Dedham, Massachusetts have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. The amazing thing about this is the fact that Massachusetts has had a law for 100 years banning public workers from striking:
In Massachusetts, strikes are unlawful for public sector workers. That didn’t stop the Dedham Educators Association (DEA) from walking out this morning after an overwhelming 248- 2 (out of 280 members) strike vote last night.
The educators in this Boston suburb are crying foul about health insurance costs that eat into their salaries, and district demands for more time on the clock and in professional development without any increase in compensation. Teachers are also demanding contract language that allows for real enforcement of sexual harassment policies.
The last straw for the teachers was when Superintendent Michael Welch tried to pick a fight with DEA President Tim Dwyer. Apparently Welch never heard of the union motto that "Injury to one is injury to all."
And the teachers weren't alone when they hit the picket line. The community is supporting the teachers and students have joined them on the picket line. But that's not all:
Cross-union support has been strong. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Electrical Workers (IBEW), nurses, and Teamsters have all been on the line, at rallies, and sharing their support on social media. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren all released statement of support. And Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy, who is running for Senate against Markey, even showed up at a rally for a few minutes.
After a rally that drew 500 people - and an order by state labor officials that the school district start bargaining in good faith - the teachers and school district sat down at the bargaining table for the first time in months.
But before sitting down at the bargaining table, there was another strong showing of support and solidarity.
And the DEA isn't the only union enjoying a show of solidarity.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) got a major boost from the Teamsters, who said that they won't deliver to the schools while the teachers are striking:
When Teamsters Local 705 official Juan Campos heard that the Chicago Teachers Union was going on strike, his first reaction was to text union stewards, reminding them that Teamsters honor strike lines of other labor groups.
He also encouraged them to display their red-and-white buttons that state: "Teamsters don’t cross picket lines.”
Campos, the secretary-treasurer of a local that represents about 17,000 workers including UPS drivers in Chicago, said that’s important to him because “today it’s them, tomorrow it’s us.”
“We stand behind the teachers union 100% and believe they should fight for every form of benefits and relief for the children they are seeking,” Campos said.
“Our drivers are not delivering any goods across any picket lines that are manned by the teachers,” Campos said. He noted they do have to abide by the law, which means if there’s no line, they must deliver.
It really warms this old union thug's heart to see such a strong showing of solidarity. We just might be able to pull this country out of its downward spiral after all.
AND THEY WON.
The new agreement — which will allow schools to open tomorrow — is a four-year contract covering the previous school year and three years moving forward.
At a news conference announcing the tentative accord, Dwyer expressed appreciation for the support the DEA received from the community, colleagues from other towns and cities, and fellow unionized workers.
“We are here today because of solidarity,” Dwyer said.
The DEA has scheduled a ratification vote for 4 p.m. tomorrow. Educators will return to the classroom Monday morning.
Cross posted from Cog Dis. Updated by Frances Langum