Dedham teachers voted to go on strike today — nearly two years after they began bargaining for a fair contract.
As of Thursday evening, DEA members planned to picket outside schools on Friday and hold a rally from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, with other actions possible.
The members of the Dedham Education Association “have not been treated fairly or with any sort of respect since we started bargaining this contract,” DEA President Tim Dwyer said in a statement.
"We were pushed into taking this extreme step and want to return to the bargaining table so we can get back to the classroom."Dedham Education Association President Tim Dwyer
“We were pushed into taking this extreme step and want to return to the bargaining table so we can get back to the classroom,” Dwyer added.
This afternoon, more than 250 members of the DEA attended a general membership meeting and — in a near-unanimous vote — supported the bargaining team’s recommendation to go on strike.
Dwyer said the vote reflected tremendous courage. He urged all members of the DEA, including those in other bargaining units, to stand in solidarity with the teachers.
Bargaining Chair Rachel Dudley told fellow members that striking was the only way left to send a message to Superintendent Michael Welch and the School Committee.
“Our fight for a fair contract is about ensuring that the community has access to the best possible public schools. The issues we want resolved — including best use of educator time, policies for student use of technology, and a means to address sexual harassment — are concerns brought forward by classroom teachers. Our work environment is the learning environment for Dedham children.”
"Our fight for a fair contract is about ensuring that the community has access to the best possible public schools."Dedham Bargaining Chair Rachel Dudley
Classes have been canceled on Friday, according to the school district.
Dedham is engaging in the first teachers’ strike in Massachusetts since 2007; strikes by public employees are against the law in the Commonwealth.
MTA President Merrie Najimy and Vice President Max Page issued the following statement:
“The MTA strongly supports the members of the Dedham Education Association in their fight for a fair contract. We call on Superintendent Michael Welch and the Dedham School Committee to come back to the bargaining table immediately and resolve all issues so that our members can focus on the thing that matters most — providing a high-quality education to every student in every school.
“For nearly two years, the DEA negotiated without success with the superintendent and School Committee. Throughout that time, it has been clear that educators’ concerns and needs — which reflect those of the students and the community — are being ignored.
“With their inadequate proposals and their snail’s pace of bargaining, the superintendent and School Committee have sent a clear message: We do not value the educators who teach our children.
“The members of the Dedham Education Association are fighting to preserve the dignity and professional voice that public school educators deserve as they dedicate their lives to ensuring the success of their students. The MTA stands firmly with them in their demands to play a meaningful role in creating a safe and nurturing environment for all students — as well as to be respected and fairly compensated for their work.”