Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

July 10, 2013

No winners in labor board fight

The decision last week by the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board is about as clear as they come.

Andover High School English teacher Jen Meagher’s actions last year during lengthy and contentious contract negotiations with school officials amounted to protected union activity.

And the fact that she was later fired for encouraging her colleagues to withhold their votes on high school re-accreditation reports as bargaining leverage in the contract talks was at its core retaliation.

The School Committee has the right to appeal. If it does, it will likely mean Meagher will spend another school year mired in uncertainty over her future. And the School Department will spend more resources — financial, administrative and otherwise — fighting a battle that does little to advance education in town.

There really are no winners in what is essentially the extension of a protracted labor fight.

Some argue that, while protected, Meagher’s actions did not constitute the proudest moment of her career. Others say her union activity should have no bearing on her role and standing as a teacher.

Indeed, by all accounts, Meagher has been both popular and respected by students, parents and her peers.

It’s been a year since school officials began the process to fire Meagher. Let’s hope this case from here can reach as swift a conclusion as possible and whatever attention it is claiming can be put back into educating the town’s students.

Meagher wants to resume teaching. And whether she does so in Andover or elsewhere, she deserves the chance to advance her career on her merits in the classroom — not at the negotiation table.

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The summer of 2013 may go down in the books as the season of al fresco dining in Andover.

The food truck trend has captured the taste buds of town. The arrival of these eateries on wheels is being embraced by customers seeking to grab a meal and go — either to nosh on the run or to savor on a bench while soaking in the summer air.

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