The Andover teachers union is facing a $50,000 fine for continuing its strike while classrooms remain empty, as the school district on Monday started to go after the educator union on social media to “clear up inaccurate information.”
An Essex Superior Court judge has ordered that the Andover Education Association pay a $50,000 fine to the state for failing to end its strike by Monday evening. In Massachusetts, teachers strikes are illegal.
If the Andover teachers continue to strike after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the union will pay an additional $60,000 fine. The next fine would be $70,000 if the union keeps striking after 3 p.m. on Wednesday — for a total fine of $180,000 after three days. The fine would keep going up $10,000 each day until the strike ends.
“These fines will completely deplete the AEA’s cash reserves, which are built through membership dues,” the Andover Education Association posted on Facebook. “However, we anticipated these fines. We also anticipated the School Committee exploiting the illegality of public sector strikes to break the spirit of the educators in Andover.
“The School Committee has not broken us, nor have they broken our resolve to see IAs (instructional assistants) paid a living wage, win fair wage adjustments for teachers, and advocate for the schools the students of Andover deserve,” the union added.
Andover teachers were expected to continue walking the picket line on Tuesday, five days after the strike started. The Andover educators are seeking legislators’ support, so they will be holding a press conference outside the State House on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the school system took the battle to social media on Monday, saying the striking union has been spreading misinformation about the contract fight.
“APS families deserve to know the facts about the School Committee’s ongoing negotiations with the Andover Education Association,” Andover Public Schools posted on Facebook. “Throughout the afternoon and in the coming days, we will be posting material to clear up inaccurate information that has been circulated since the AEA initiated a strike on November 9.
“The AEA is telling families that their proposal is just $260,000 off from what the school committee is proposing,” the school district added. “The truth is that their proposal would cost $5.5 million over the life of the contract, which would result in budget cuts and staff reductions.”
The union responded to the school system’s post, writing that they’ve said the sides are $260,000 apart for the first year of the deal.
“The Andover School Committee doesn’t want to commit to paying instructional assistants a living wage or giving a fair cost of living adjustment to teachers this year, or going forward,” the union posted. “Their official position is that Andover Public Schools can only operate on the exploited labor of instructional assistants, and the under-service of students with disabilities… Threatening residents with cutting programs and layoffs is dishonest.”