Eighty-five reps ask Speaker to back arbitration for Springfield's teachers

Action to resolve the Springfield school crisis is continuing on two fronts, in the Legislature and at the bargaining table.

Eighty-five state representatives have signed a letter, which was delivered today to House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, urging him "to support binding arbitration as a fair mechanism" to resolve the bargaining dispute between the Springfield Education Association and the Finance Control Board.

This support is a direct result of the of e-mails and postcards sent to legislators by thousands of SEA and MTA members across the state. 

"This contract needs to be settled so that we may direct our attention to the task of providing our children with the skills and knowledge they need to help the city become more economically viable," the letter states.

"Because these negotiations have continued for over four years," the letter continues, "it is clear that this situation cries out for a neutral third party to arbitrate the dispute, so that the education community can turn its full attention to the students."

The letter notes that, "as legislators, we should stay out of the contract negotiations except when absolutely necessary to ensure a level playing field upon which the parties could bargain in good faith.

"However," the letter concludes, "the FCB's rejection of the SEA's last offer makes it clear to us that the FCB has no interest in settling this dispute notwithstanding the considerable damage its failure to resolve the impasse is doing to the city's schools and reputation."

The letter asks DiMasi to meet with members of the Springfield legislative delegation to discuss the crisis. The letter's five primary sponsors include Rep. Gale D. Candaras, Rep. Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, Rep. Benjamin Swan, Rep. Sean Curran and Rep. James T. Welch.