The Brookline Educators Union (BEU) held a rally at City Hall on Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. to protest a fair Brookline School Committee (BSC) contract. Brookline Public Schools (PSB) teachers came together, supported by community members and representatives from other teachers’ unions in nearby towns.
On Thursday May 12, the BEU issued an ultimatum to the BSC after months of negotiation and will go on strike on Monday May 16 if a written agreement is not reached by Sunday May 15.
A variety of speakers, including BEU members, other educators’ unions and PSB parents, took their stand in front of the crowd, supporting the BEU fight by presenting a speech or leading the crowd with chants. .
“Hey! It’s hot here, there must be teachers in the mood,” shouts a member of another union.
Marlene Goncalves, an English teacher at Pierce School, one of many BEU members who spoke at the protest, said the strike was an action of last resort.
“I hope the town members know that none of us want to strike. It’s the last thing I want to do. The only thing I want to do on Monday is be in my class, watch an episode of Twilight Zone,” Goncalves said. “I don’t want to go on strike, nobody does. But if nothing else works, what can we do? »
Eileen Pushee, science teacher at Pierce School and member of the BEU, said it was important that the BEU could defend their rights.
“I think it’s really important that we can negotiate our working conditions because what’s standard in other districts I’ve worked in isn’t even allowed to be negotiated it seems. by the school board here,” Pushee said. “And as we always say: our working conditions are the students’ learning conditions.
One of several PSB parents who spoke at the protest said he understood the importance of a fair contract and hoped a deal would be reached by this weekend.
“I stand by the teachers. Hope you don’t have to go on strike on Monday,” the parent said. “My high school kids might be okay with that, but I’m not. Hope you get a fair contract this weekend.
Another PSB parent who spoke said educators deserve better pay for their work.
“It is unreasonable to expect so much from educators while giving so little in return,” the parent said.
Massachusetts Teachers Association Vice President Max Page said the BEU has fought hard for the betterment of the city as a whole.
“You are right and upright in what you fight for. You will win this. You are going to complete this; whatever you have to do will be done and you will have done the city a favor,” Page said.
With hundreds of people gathered outside City Hall, Goncalves said she felt the support of the educator community.
“I feel incredibly emotional,” Goncalves said. “It’s been three long years, but being together like this feels like a collective hug.”