Brookline Educators Union protests at town hall for fair contract

Educators+and+community+members+gathered+outside+town+hall+on+Nov.+17+to+demand+a+fair+contract+from+the+Brookline+School+Committee+%28BSC%29.

CONTRIBUTED BY SCOTT MCLENNAN

Educators and community members gathered outside town hall on Nov. 17 to demand a fair contract from the Brookline School Committee (BSC).

The Brookline Educators Union (BEU) and supporters joined together at town hall on Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. in protest for a fair contract from the Brookline School Committee (BSC).

Teachers from various schools in the town stood outside town hall and held signs with messages to the BSC. One sign read “1% Increase for Pandemic Pay is Not Okay!”. Speakers called for action by the BSC to protect teachers’ rights and make a fair contract.

Disagreements between the BEU and BSC about a contract have been present for several years. Many teachers expressed their frustration through speeches at the protest, including chemistry teacher Julia Speyer who called for respect for teachers from the BSC.

“{The speeches} were all saying the same thing: that the school committee isn’t supporting education,” Speyer said. “They’re not valuing it and they’re showing a lot of disrespect to teachers.”

Robert Miller, science teacher at Heath Elementary School, said the lack of fair contract is especially upsetting this school year.

“They want us to work longer days for no more money. They want to take away some of our union grievance rights and the personal discretion of people to make a professional decision about their tending to meetings,” Miller said. “These are all things that have been in existence for decades. Why do they want to take them away right now?”

BEU president Jessica Wender-Shubow said the lack of agreement regarding a contract is causing financial struggles for teachers.

“People cannot pay their bills. Brookline should be embarrassed for saying it’s too poor,” Wender-Shubow said. “When the teachers don’t work, there are no schools, I don’t care how beautiful the building is.”

Wender-Shubow said the lack of a fair contract reflects a dismissal of teachers in the town.

“There is a level of disregard for the teaching profession that has crept into a town I love. I was born here, I grew up here, I went to school here. We know what Brookline education can be and we will not allow to destroy what we want to give to our students,” Wender-Shubow said.

Wender-Shubow also said the lack of contract is directly impacting teachers’ abilities to support their students amidst growing class sizes.

“We will not allow this administration or any school committee to destroy what we want to give to our students. We’re in this because we love the work we do. But, it is being made impossible and unsustainable. You have to have more staff when you have more students, and you can’t hire people without paying people enough,” Wender-Shubow said.

Speyer said the quality of education in the town is declining because of these disagreements with the BSC.

“The town is famous for the quality of the education. People think that it’s Brookline, so it must be okay. It’s not okay. I’ve been in Brookline for 20 years, and I definitely feel it used to be better,” Speyer said.

Miller said increased demands from the BSC without a fair contract impacts students.

“Teachers are getting burnt out and feel like they’re being asked to do more and more all the time and being offered less and less all the time,” Miller said. “Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions.”