Quincy teachers reach tentative deal to end strike
BOSTON -- Quincy public school teachers and city officials reached a tentative contract agreement on Wednesday to end a four-day illegal strike.
Paul Phillips, president of the Quincy Education Association, said union leaders were recommending that teachers ratify the contract. A vote was expected for next week.
Teachers would return to classes Thursday, and students will have to make up the four days of school they missed because of the strike, Mayor William Phelan said. School was supposed to end Friday.
The 890-member union voted last Thursday to walk off the job after 18 months of contract negotiations. Bargaining has been stalled over whether teachers should pay 20 percent toward their health care premiums rather than the current 10 percent.
Phillips said that under the five-year contract agreement, teachers would still have to pay 20 percent of the premiums, but the city agreed to phase in the increase more gradually than originally proposed.
"We just got a tiny little bit of mitigation," Phillips said. "This is the best we can do right now," he added.
The strike, the first in the state in more than a decade, was ruled illegal by the state's Labor Relations Commission on Friday. Superior Court Judge Thomas Connors on Monday ordered teachers to return to the classroom, then told the union it would be fined $150,000 if it did not end the strike by Wednesday morning.
Phillips said it was not yet clear if the union would have to pay that, but members were discussing how to raise money if the full fine is imposed.
"We don't know," said Phillips. "It would make sense at some point for our lawyers to ask for a reduction."
Phelan, who had repeatedly criticized the teachers for striking, struck a conciliatory tone when he announced the deal Wednesday.
"I welcome you back to our classrooms," he said.
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