At the end of the work day yesterday, September 26, the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB), an adjudicatory body within the Department of Labor Relations (DLR) responsible for reviewing orders and issuing decisions under M.G.L. c. 150E and M.G.L. c. 150A., issued a ruling on the Newton School Committee’s petition with the DLR alleging that the Newton Teachers Association had illegally engaged in and was continuing to engage in a strike.
School Committee Allegations
According the ruling, the strike petition “alleged that two different work actions started on the first two days of the 2023-2024 school year - the August 30, 2023 boycott of an opening day event at Newton South High School by NTA teachers (Unit A) and administrator (Unit B); and the “silent meetings” that teachers (Unit A) engaged in during building-based, principal-led staff meetings that were held on August 30 and 31, which the NTA plans to continue until the School Committee and the NTA agree on a successor collective bargaining agreement” (p. 2).
The CERB members concluded that regarding allegation #1 above, “the NTA, its officers and membership engaged in an unlawful strike when they boycotted a district-wide meeting [the opening day 'Staff Convocation and Rally for Educator Excellence’] on the educators’ first workday of the 2023-2024 school year” and instead reported for duty in their classrooms and continued to prepare for students, and “that the NTA, its officers, and Michael Zilles, in his official capacity as Union president, unlawfully induced, encouraged and condoned that strike” (p. 3)
The CERB members further concluded that, regarding allegation #2, “the NTA and its membership did not engage in, and are not currently engaged in a strike, work stoppage, slowdown or other withholding of services by remaining silent during certain staff meetings" (p. 3). Put positively, The CERB concluded that OUR MODIFIED WORK TO RULE "SILENT MEETING" ACTIONS ARE LEGAL and PROTECTED UNION ACTIONS.
We, as NTA members and officers, have been ordered (1) to cease and desist from engaging in a strike, and the NTA and its officers, including me, (2, 3) must cease and desist from inducing, encouraging or condoning any “strike, work stoppage, slowdown or other withholding of services” (p. 38).
I am ordered (4) to inform you of your obligation to “fully perform the duties of your employment, including the obligation to not participate in any form of work stoppage” (p. 39).
As I anticipate that there may be questions regarding this communication, I will be sending out a follow up to this email soon, in which I will try to get ahead of any questions you may have.
In solidarity, Mike Zilles, President Newton Teachers Association