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Massachusetts teachers union tries to fundraise off illegal strike

A Massachusetts teachers union began a crowdfunding campaign on February 6 to pay fines it incurred for breaking the state’s no-strike law for public employees.

The Woburn Teachers Association (WTA) tweeted a link to their GoFundMe crowdfunding page and said, “Any help would be immensely appreciated!! We have some fines to pay and unfortunately the bake sale couldn’t cover it all!!” The GoFundMe page claims that funds will be sent directly to the WTA and that the WTA is still raising funds to pay the fine even though the WTA “settled their contract” with the mayor and school district.

Barbara Madeloni is listed as the organizer of the fundraiser. Though Madeloni identified herself on the page as a retired MTA member, she is also the former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) union.

So far, the fundraising effort has raised $53,650 out of the $55,000 goal and has a total of 809 donors.

Massachusetts is one of several states where state law prevents public employees from striking, despite unions’ attempts to eliminate the no-strike law. Massachusetts unions like the WTA “have opted to proceed with strikes, aware that such action violates state law and could carry financial consequences.”

In addition to Woburn teachers’ strike at the end of January, teachers went on strike last fall in other Massachusetts cities including Haverhill, Malden, and Brookline, which all resulted in new contracts. This wave of strikes suggest teachers unions in the area are willing to risk being fined when they think striking can force changes to their contracts.

In the words of current MTA President Max Page, “No educator wants to be on strike, no local says this is a great thing to do … ultimately, they make the calculation that it’s worth it to achieve that for the long term.”

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.