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STA Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Town of Stoughton, School Committee

The suit alleges withholding of step increases and seeks $1.5 million in damages.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo

The Stoughton Teachers Association on Friday filed a class-action lawsuit against the town of Stoughton and the Stoughton School Committee for non-payment of wages, STA officials said. 

In the suit, the STA claims that the withholding of step increases is in violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 149, Section 148, and the lawsuit names the town of Stoughton, the Stoughton School Committee, Stoughton Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi and Town Manager Michael Hartman as defendants. 

The lawsuit, moreover, seeks damages owed "under the statute including payment of step increases plus triple damages and attorney costs," with the expected total damages amounting to about $1.5 million, STA officials said. 

"As part of the teacher contract settlement, we agreed to waive $50,000 in interest payments ordered by the Department of Labor Relations, withdraw other pending unfair labor practice charges and not move forward with the lawsuit," STA President and South School Elementary Teacher Andrea Pires said in a statement. "Teachers were willing to forego the $1.5 million in damages. It was reckless and irresponsible of Dr. Brown, Ms. Husseini and Mr. Hartman to have voted down this contract." 

Last month May, Stoughton teachers voted to ratify the STA contract, but the Stoughton School Committee did not subsequently vote in favor of the contract, deadlocking the vote at 3-3, according to the STA

Discussions on the STA's contract have been ongoing, with the STA holding a rally outside of Stoughton High School in December before a planned appearance at the Stoughton School Committee's meeting; the Stoughton School Committee later asked the STA to have an open meeting in January regarding negotiations.

For more information and updates on the lawsuit and contract developments, follow the STA on Facebook

Leo Kokokocks June 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM
I again agree with Just Saying that it would be best for this to get settled ASAP, and he brings up an interesting situation. It's going to be hard for the STA to agree to come back to the bargaining table after both they and the SC bargaining team had already come to an agreement after months and months of negotiations. For that to happen, it would seem that there would have to be give and take from BOTH sides. The STA isn't going to just come back to the table and bargain for a WORSE contract then they already agreed to and had their members ratify. How can one expect them to do that? So back to Just Sayings ideas. I have some of my own too. Here's one of them. What if the deal was the STA were to give up the +625 to the top step every year for a one time payment to each teacher of $1250 in FY 14 and 15. In return, the STA would NOT withdraw any legal claims and ALL legal claims are allowed to continue to their conclusion. So the STA would be giving up the +625 for the top step for all 4 years, in return each teacher would receive a payment of $1250 at the beginning of fiscal years 14 and 15 and NOT withdraw the legal filings. Just an idea.
Just Saying June 18, 2014 at 01:45 PM
I agree with you Leo that the STA doesn't need to agree to go back to the bargaining table, or to make any further concessions at this point. However, it would be ideal if they could just get the contract settled. Then they would not need to deal with any of these issues for a couple of years and everyone could have some peace of mind that this has been settled. Hopefully, the extremely antagonistic relationship between the administration, the SC, and the STA can have time to subside. And the town won't be hit with the triple damages, that the STA will probably prevail on if it goes to court.
Leo Kokokocks June 18, 2014 at 02:06 PM
If the legal claims are the issue then another option could be as follows: The STA gives up the +625 for the top steps in FY's 14 and 15 and are granted the +625 increase in the top step for FY's 16 and 17 plus a one time payment of $1250 at the beginning of FY 2014 ONLY. Also, the STA would withdraw all legal claims. That way all legal claims will be over. Just throwing some ideas out there in hopes anyone involved reads them or hasn't thought of them yet.
Leo Kokokocks June 18, 2014 at 03:03 PM
Idea #3. FY14 no +625 added to the top step. But each teacher receives a one time payment of $1250 at the beginning of FY14. Then, when each following year is over....we calculate the savings from each years previous retired teachers and those who have left(using ACCURATE FIGURES) and add that amount to the top steps in each year until FY 17. This would solve the problem of "not knowing" if a teacher who says they are retiring, really are or are coming back(because the teacher would have already retired). I'm not even sure this is possible or too convoluted, but I'm just throwing stuff out there. It's better than nothing, which is what we are getting now!

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