Cambridge Education Association Protests for New Contract

Stephen Gwon, Around School Editor

On February 15th, teachers clad in red with an array of signs gathered on Broadway Street, right in front of Cambridge Rindge and Latin. The protest, organized by the Cambridge Education Association (CEA), pushed for a new contract for educators in the district. Since the expiration of the previous year’s employment contract this August, negotiation teams from both the CEA—a union for educators in Cambridge—and the School Committee have met to create a new contract. Despite this, a letter sent out by Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and Superintendent Dr. Victoria Greer on February 14th highlighted that no progress had been made due to “fundamental disagreements between the negotiating teams.” The letter painted the CEA as uncooperative, citing that they had “paused negotiations since the par- ties’ last bargaining session on January 19.”

This entire year we’ve had no contract, meaning we received no cost of living [salary] increase, even with inflation going to record levels.”

However, in a press release statement made by the CEA leadership on February 14th, they declared that they were “prepared to work with the School Committee on a contract” but were “demoralized” after having their requests ignored by the School Committee. One of the main barriers in negotiations brought up by both sides has been the length of the successor contract. In fact, over the last four years the CEA has been requesting longer contracts that did not require annual renegotiation—but were met with opposition as the district only accepted one-year deals. Even in the letter sent out by the Mayor and Superintendent, a one-year contract (with a 2% retroactive wage increase) proposed by the School Committee was detailed. Mr. Christopher Montero, a CRLS history teacher and member of the CEA who participated in the protest, told the Register Forum that that teachers “want the peace of mind of a three-year contract” and that because of disruptions, “this entire year we’ve had no contract, meaning we received no cost of living [salary] increase, even with inflation going to record levels.”

The CEA has also marked this conflict as an example of the School Committee’s lack of respect towards the organization. In the press release statement, the CEA said that “the School Committee will not even consider our [other] proposals, such as those around professional development and anti-racism.” To resolve the issue, Mayor Siddiqui and Dr. Greer suggested a “neutral mediator” from the state, since “requesting a state mediator be appointed to these negotiations is a wise step that demonstrates our commitment to coming to an agreement quickly, effectively and in the best interest of our students and staff.” Nonetheless, Mr. Montero warned that while mediation “sounds good … in this case, it’s a trap they want to use. If the mediator says that we are at an impasse—nothing left to discuss—then there is one more step before the district can just implement their last offer, and we don’t get to vote on it.”

This article also appears in our March 2022 print edition.