After all-night negotiations, the Brookline's teachers union and School Committee reached agreement on a tentative contract early Tuesday morning, ending a one-day strike by educators.
The town's nearly 1,000 educators did not show up for work Monday, leading to a decision to close public schools. Disputes over pay raises, class prepartion time and retention of teachers of color — which had stymied contract negotiations for nearly three years — were resolved in last-ditch negotiations that began Monday afternoon and concluded around 4 a.m. Tuesday. The schools reopened Tuesday as teachers returned to the job.
"We're very, very gratified that although it took us until four in the morning, the school committee finally recognized, in some form, every single one of the issues that we had prepped them to resolve," union president Jessica Wender-Shubow said in an interview.
The School Committee offered thanks to the community.
"We recognize that the process of arriving at these agreements has been a strain. We thank students, caregivers, and the community for their patience and understanding," officials said in a statement.
The tentative contract meets most of the union's demands. The School Committee outlined the terms of the six-year contract in a statement:
- A 6% increase in wages and stipends from 2020 to the fall of 2023, followed by 8% increase from 2023 to 2026, as well as an additional 1% beginning in the fall of 2026.
- Longevity pay or additional compensation for veteran Brookline teachers who have reached the highest salary.
- Support for retaining educators of underrepresented groups. The contract specifically acknowledges that the superintendent has authority to grant "Professional Teacher Status" to educators, which benefits them in case of layoffs. The committee will also form a working group to identify strategies and specific action steps to be taken to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
- More preparation time for teachers, including at least 40 minutes per full school day for grades 6-8 and one unassigned block per day for teachers in grades 9-12.
The district said the raises are in addition to automatic annual pay increases for most teachers based on years of experience. Sixty-three percent of Brookline teachers currently receive these raises, officials said, which boost the salaries of these teachers by an average of 3.7% each year, in addition to the other annual increases.
On Monday, hundreds of educators picketed in front of schools and town hall and along Route 9, only the second time in more than a decade that a Massachusetts teachers union has resorted to a strike. Brookline Educators Union members are scheduled to join allies for a rally at town hall Tuesday afternoon.
The tentative contract still needs to be ratified in separate votes by union members and the school committee.