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Massachusetts parents file class action lawsuit against teachers' union that led illegal strike
Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts parents file class action lawsuit against teachers' union that led illegal strike

In many states, the ability of teachers' unions to go on strike, particularly during the school year, is either severely curtailed or outright prohibited by law. The reason for this is simple: it makes no sense to allow government employees to collectively bargain against the taxpayers, or to withhold essential services as a bargaining chip during those negotiations. Nonetheless, in recent years teachers' unions in places like Chicago and Massachusetts have gone on strike anyway, reasoning that no one would dare to hold them accountable for their illegal actions, or that at worst they would face a small fine.

In Massachusetts, the Newton Teachers Association led an 11-day strike that concluded earlier this month. The strike was one of the longest strikes seen in Massachusetts had seen in decades, and eventually led the school district to cave to the unions' demands and give teachers many of the benefits they sought in the strike.

Now at least one group is fighting back: parents. A group of parents in Newton, Massachusetts has filed a class action lawsuit against the Newton Teachers Association (NTA), the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Education Association, alleging that the unions "knowingly, willfully, intentionally chose to break the law by engaging in an illegal strike, shutting down Newton's public schools for 11 days and throwing the lives and educations of 12,000 students and their families into chaos as a result."

The lawsuit asks for damages for learning loss, emotional distress, deprivation of a constitutional right to education, and economic impacts.

Union officials had not responded to the parents' lawsuit as of Saturday morning, but NTA president Michael Zilles defended his union's illegal actions in a recent Boston Globe op-ed, calling it an act of "civil disobedience" that was justified by the district's alleged failure to negotiate in what he considered to be good faith.

The courts have thus far disagreed, slapping the NTA with at least $625,000 in fines and fees so far. The parents' lawsuit is far more threatening to the union, however. If the class is certified, the potential damages from the suit could easily reach into the millions. Daniel Suhr, an attorney for the parents, said, "The families affected by these illegal strikes have suffered real, tangible losses. Monetary damages are not just compensation; they’re a recognition of the pain and disruption inflicted upon them. It’s about restoring what was unjustly taken from these communities."

Massachusetts teachers' unions have, in recent weeks, attempted to push legislation through the deep blue Massachusetts legislature that would change the law to allow public employees to strike, but the legislation has thus far stalled in committee and appears to be unpopular even in Massachusetts.

The Newton parents join a group of Chicago parents who sued the Chicago Teachers Union for their illegal strike that ended in 2022.

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Leon Wolf

Leon Wolf

Managing Editor, News

Leon Wolf is the managing news editor for Blaze News. Previously, he worked as managing editor for RedState, as an in-house compliance attorney for several Super PACs, as a white-collar criminal defense attorney, and in communications for several Republican campaigns. You can reach him at lwolf@blazemedia.com.
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