ANDOVER, Mass. – Self-serving Massachusetts teacher union activists, listen up: Threatening to harm your students’ academic future in order to gain leverage in labor disputes is now considered protected union activity.
That perplexing decision – which was handed down earlier this month by the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board – is good news for Jen Meagher, the Andover teacher who was fired last year for trying to turn her school’s reaccreditation process into a union bargaining chip with district leaders during a contract dispute.
Not only was Meagher’s behavior found to be legal, but state labor officials have directed Andover school leaders to give the high school English teacher back her job, along with all her missed wages, plus interest.
Last Friday, the Andover school board reluctantly, but unanimously, voted to do just that, reports AndoverTownsman.com.
“We feel a teacher shouldn’t be allowed to do what she did,” board member Paula Colby-Clements told the news site. “The fact that CERB has now decided that activity is protected was something we couldn’t have predicted or imagined.”
The board could have appealed CERB’s decision, but members felt “the state appeals court would essentially back the labor board,” AndoverTownsman.com reports.
Challenging the decision would only lead to more legal expenses for the budget-conscious district.
“We need to look at the larger picture,” school board president Dennis Forgue said.
The board’s vote marks the official end of the district’s dispute with Meagher, who is expected to rejoin the school in the fall.
The trouble all started on June 10, 2012, when Meagher sent an email to dozens of fellow teacher union members, urging them to “put a hold on” the school’s reaccreditation process by refusing to vote on a series of reports related to that process.
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