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As Election Day Approaches, Cambridge Educators Union Ups Pressure on School District for Contract

Cambridge Education Association President Dan Monahan speaks at a union members rally in September outside Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
Cambridge Education Association President Dan Monahan speaks at a union members rally in September outside Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. By Julian J. Giordano
By Sally E. Edwards, Crimson Staff Writer

With elections for Cambridge School Committee on the horizon, the Cambridge Educators Association is working to ensure the ongoing contract negotiations are on the top of voters’ — and candidates’ — minds.

In recent weeks, the CEA has held demonstrations across the school district, urged residents to write their School Committee representatives, and endorsed a slate of candidates for School Committee — though they remain without a contract, leading the CEA to consider escalating its tactics.

The CEA’s contract with Cambridge Public Schools expired on Aug. 31, more than eight months into negotiations for a renewal. Now, more than a year after those negotiations began, educators are working without a new contract under the terms of their previous contract, which will remain in effect until a new agreement is reached. Mediation by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations remains ongoing.

Under Massachusetts labor law, it is illegal for public school teachers to strike — though educators in cities like Malden, Woburn, and Haverhill have previously taken this step amid their own negotiations.

Jon Baring-Gould, a ceramics teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, said that he is taking part in work-to-contract demonstrations — in which teachers begin and end work as dictated by the contractual day, and no longer — to push for a “fair contract.”

“The City of Cambridge — in my opinion — has been low-balling teachers for an incredibly long time,” he said. “Our salaries have not kept up with inflation, and they’re doing it again.”

Baring-Gould, who works three jobs, said he would like to see educators’ salaries be increased to both compensate for the high cost-of-living in Cambridge and reflect the growing responsibilities attached to teacher’s roles.

“If you look at how our jobs have changed over the past 20 years — the workload is enormous,” he said. “Teachers are just being squished further and further and further by a city that pays its School Committee members incredibly well, pays its City Councilors incredibly well.”

“They talk about equity endlessly, but it’s equity for everyone except teachers,” he added.

CPS spokesperson Sujata Wycoff wrote in an emailed statement that CPS values “our talented and dedicated educators.” She also wrote that Baring-Gould’s claim that the City has been low-balling teachers is “false.”

“More than 60% of CPS teachers earn over $100,000 annually,” she wrote. “The School Committee has proposed salary increases for our teachers that will ensure Cambridge teachers continue to be among the highest paid teachers in the state.”

The ongoing contract negotiations come as the CEA has endorsed Andrew King, Caroline Hunter, and Robert V. Travers for School Committee. Endorsements were based on attendance at the CEA candidate forum, as well as individual surveys on contract issues, MCAS elimination, and teacher evaluations.

Dan Monahan, the president of the CEA, said he believes the candidates “will be our strongest advocates on the School Committee.” Monahan added that he hopes voters consider ongoing contract negotiations when heading to the polls.

“That was actually a major reason why we didn’t endorse some of the incumbents,” he said. “I hope voters take that into account when they’re making a decision.”

As election day approaches, Monahan said that the CEA is prepared to discuss employing new, broader tactics in contract negotiations. He cited the CEA’s recent community letter-writing campaign as an “escalation,” estimating that more than 2,000 emails were sent to the School Committee.

“We’re sort of doing a really big push right now to try to wrap up this contract and apply that pressure,” he said. “Our next step is to go back to our members and ask them you know, are you are you are you willing to support you know, a more significant open ended action.”

—Staff writer Sally E. Edwards can be reached at sally.edwards@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @sallyedwards04 or on Threads @sally_edwards06.

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