With the Newton teacher’s strike in the news, we thought we would throw it back to the 1988 Peabody Teacher’s Strike.

If you or anyone you know have images of this event, please consider sharing with the Historical Society!
On September 7, 1988, 406 Peabody teachers went on strike for better pay and benefits. September 7th was also the first day of school for the year. Classes were taught by the city’s 40 school administrators – in hopes of a short strike. By the next day all 8 schools were closed, the city’s 5,700 students remained home.

The Daily Evening News, Lynn, Massachusetts, September 9, 1988

Negotiations continued. The teachers were asking for a three-year contract that would increase their salaries 9% each year. The city countered with 5.5% annual increases. The teachers demanded pay in line with their regional counterparts in Salem, Beverly, Danvers and Lynn. The teacher’s union was fighting for not only pay increases, but also smaller class sizes, more preparation time and better health benefits. Neither side looked ready to budge.

The Daily Evening News, Lynn, Massachusetts, September 8, 1988

The Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission ruled that the strike was illegal, as are any strikes by a public sector employee. The teachers continued to picket, even when they were sent termination notices from the School Committee. Mayor Peter Torigian went to court, getting a cease-and-desist order from the Essex Superior Court that ordered the teachers back to work.

Negotiations lasted until Tuesday, September 13th. After a tense overnight session, the teachers agreed to a new package that gave them a 22% raise over three years, along with smaller classes over time. The strike lasted three school days, as Monday and Tuesday the schools were closed for the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. And so the 1988 school year began!


The Boston Globe, September 8-14, 1988
Dana Fulham and Joe Ferson “Opening Day isn’t in two cities”, September 8, 1988; Joe Ferson “State Orders Lowell teachers back to work; Peabody strike continues”, September 9, 1988;
Staff Reporter “New talks in Peabody teacher strike”, September 11,1988; Joe Ferson “Peabody teachers vote to end strike,” September 14,1988; Maria Alvarez “With three-day strike settled, school’s in again,” September 16,1988.

The Daily Evening News, Lynn, Massachusetts, September 8-14, 1988

Video Footage, Peabody Access TV, September 1988