ANDOVER (CBS) — The state’s labor relations board ruled that Andover teachers participated in an illegal strike last week. Last Monday, teachers refused to enter school buildings for professional development, working outside instead in protest of the district’s reopening plan.

Teachers “engaged in an unlawful strike when they refused to enter school buildings on August 31, 2020,” the Employment Relations Board concluded.

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Air quality in the buildings is one of the teachers’ top concerns. Union officials considered the move was a “work safety action” as opposed to a strike but the board ruled that teachers failed to “report to duty,” even though they worked at picnic tables outside, by not entering the school buildings.

Read The Ruling (PDF)

Teachers “reluctantly” went inside to work the next day. The state has ordered the teachers’ union and its members to stop engaging in any kind of strike or work stoppage.

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The first day of school in Andover is set for Sept. 16.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday he supported the board’s decision. He said teachers’ unions agreed with the state back in July that the school year would be shortened by ten days and that those days would be used by teachers for training for the new environment this fall.

“I think Andover made the right decision by arguing that a deal’s a deal, that there was an agreement that those ten days would be spent conducting the training that was necessary,” Baker said at a news conference Wednesday. “I applaud the decision. I think it was the right one.”

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