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Contract Negotiations Processes and Timeline FAQ

Negotiations Processes FAQ

Q: What are BFT’s top negotiations priorities?

  • A meaningful increase in compensation
  • Increased student supports (more case managers) for our Full Inclusion model of education (via caseload caps and limits on assessments per case manager)
  • Improvements in working conditions for our Independent Study teachers
  • An increase in the employer contribution to the cost of medical benefits
  • Gradual increase in the cap on prior years of service (for Step placement for new teachers)
  • Elimination of the “freeze” at Step 12
  • True “personal” leave days for BFT members
  • Change in structure of compensation for subs to attract and retain substitutes

Q: What has been agreed to so far by the two sides?  So far there is agreement to:

  • Increase the BUSD contribution to the cost of medical benefits
  • Gradually increase the cap on prior years of service starting at year 15
  • To eliminate the “freeze” at Step 12
  • Create true “personal” leave days for teachers
  • Increase the pay for behaviorists that do not have a PPS credential
  • Improve the balance of preschool special education/general education “integrated” classrooms
  • Create a stipend and fee reimbursement for School Psychologists who pursue national certification (as exists now for teachers)

These victories are a direct result of our strong member activism and contract campaign during the 18-19 school year.

Q: What is the status of compensation negotiations?

So far, BFT has proposed a 5.75% increase for 2019-2020 and 6% for 2020-2021, and BUSD has proposed a 2.25% increase for 2019-2020 with future years to be discussed. Any significant increase will need to be funded by substantial budget cuts (above and beyond the $4.2 million in cuts that have been made over the last three years) or new revenue.  Both sides are discussing a possible new local parcel tax to fund employee salaries.
 

Q. How did BFT identify its negotiations priorities?

In the fall of 2018 “Listening Sessions” were held at each site, as well as at two general membership meetings.  In addition, an extensive negotiations survey was conducted in the fall, and there was high participation in the survey.  Information from these sessions and the survey was reviewed by the BFT Negotiations Team and priorities were determined by the BFT Executive Board over several meetings in the winter.  In addition, the BFT Special Education Working Group met over the course of seven months to develop the BFT proposals related to increasing case managers and time for case managers to directly serve students (by implementing limits on assessments per case manager).
 

Q: How is the BFT Negotiations Team chosen? Who is on the team?

A: The BFT Negotiations Team is nominated by the BFT President and approved by the Executive Board, as required by the BFT Constitution and By-Laws.
 
The team Is led by BFT President Matt Meyer. He is joined by BFT VP Janine Waddell, BFT Treasurer Angela Reed, BFT Secretary Cynthia Allman,  BHS School Psychologist Susan D’Orazio, BHS teacher Susi Lopez, King Middle School Mild/Moderate Full Inclusion teacher Amanda Cardno, ex-president Cathy Campbell, Washington Moderate/Severe Full Inclusion teacher Hillary Trainor and CFT Field Rep Sue Pak.

Q:  Who sits on the BUSD Negotiations Team?

A: District managers and site administrators typically make up the BUSD team.  There is usually a BUSD-retained attorney on the team as the Chief Negotiator. 

Q: What is the timeline for negotiations?

A: Preparation for negotiations take place from September to February.  Face-to-face negotiations take place starting in March. The BFT and BUSD teams tend to meet together twice per month. 

Q: How long have the teams been bargaining?

The two teams met six times last spring.  The first session took place on March 15, 2019. Our current contract expired on June 30, 2019, but the “terms and conditions” of the contract continue until a new agreement is in place. 

Q: When are the next bargaining dates?

There are three bargaining dates set for September and October: September 12, September 19 and October 10.  It is likely that another session will be added in October.

Q: How can I stay informed about negotiations?

A: Negotiations Updates are published after each session. There will be membership meetings on the topic of negotiations on Thursday, October 3rd. Site Contract Action Teams will update members via email and in person, and the BFT Executive Board will receive regular updates.

Q: What is the state of the BUSD budget?

A: BUSD has made $4.5 million in budget cuts the last three years. Increased revenues have not kept up with increased expenditures. The BUSD reserve is small compared to other districts and has been decreasing to pay for increasing expenditures. That being said, BFT is making the case that increased employee compensation needs to be a priority for the District. BFT carefully reviews the BUSD budget each negotiations cycle to look for areas of waste, overspending and overestimating expenditures.

Q: What are possible ways to create revenue to fund a new contract agreement?

A: There is activism across our state to urge our legislature and Governor to raise funding for education in California.  In addition, there is at least one measure on the 2020 ballot, the Schools & Communities First initiative, that would significantly increase funding for schools if passed.  That funding would become available starting with the 2021-22 school year. Other tax measures at the state level may be needed to bring California closer to average funding per pupil in our the U.S.  At the local level, new parcel tax revenue may be needed to fund any new agreement.
 

Mobilizing Members to Gain Power at the Table (Contract Campaign)

Q. How are we collectively ramping up our contract campaign this fall?

We are escalating our contract campaign by having a HUGE amount of member activism in September.  We need to bring our message (BUSD must address the sustainability crisis impacting certificated and classified employees) to our community and our Board more forcefully than ever.

We are asking every single BFT member to attend a RALLY on Wednesday, September 18th starting at 6pm at the BUSD District Office at 2020 Bonar Street.  We will march and rally and then enter the BUSD School Board meeting that starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Site Reps and Contract Action Teams will be reaching out to their PTAs, and there will be BFT leafletting at the Back-to-School nights at all levels.

There are many reasons why it is important to reach a settlement on a new agreement in October, so we are counting on our members to help us “turn up the heat”!

Q:  How is BFT gauging member activism and willingness to take “high stakes” contract campaign actions such as a strike authorization vote?

A:  BFT is tracking data on participation in mild and moderate contract campaign actions such as PD sticker days, site t-shirt days, membership mobilizations to School Board meetings (such as March 13, 2019 and May 22nd, 2019), attendance at speakers’ trainings, willingness to speak at school board meetings, having an active Contract Action Team at each site, etc.  High member participation in these events is a prerequisite for higher level actions.

Q: How is BFT gathering information about members’ skill sets that could be used in the contract campaign?

A: This information is gathered via Site Reps, especially from Contract Action Team members.  BFT is open to ALL ideas for contract campaign actions. BFT is encouraging Contract Action Teams to plan site based actions utilizing our members’ skills.

Q:  How is BFT working with BCCE?

A: BFT is hoping that all of our actions this fall will be joint actions with BCCE.  We had some successful joint actions last year and want to build on that momentum.

Q:  Is BFT coordinating with other Bay Area unions?

A:  Yes, definitely.  Both the BFT President and OEA President sit on the Alameda Labor Council Executive Committee and are in frequent communication.  In addition, BFT is part of a coalition of all teachers’ unions in the East Bay which is planning joint actions, such as the Rally for Public Education on January 12th. BFT is also part of a statewide coalition, California Educators United, which is focused on support for UTLA and Oakland, and on the struggle for full funding of public education in our state. Additionally, BFT has been invited to join California Alliance for Community Schools which is a group of the 8 largest unions in California.

Q: What does “Red for Ed” have to do with our own union efforts?  Why is it important to show solidarity with other unions?

A: The fight for adequate school funding is not unique to Los Angeles or Oakland; this is a statewide fight and BFT is committed to this larger struggle.  California is the 5th largest economy in the world and home to more billionaires than any other state, but we rank 43rd in per pupil funding. The under funding of education in California furthers the “failing schools” narrative and strengthens the movement for charter schools, standardized testing and further privatization.  We need a statewide movement, and solidarity with other unions, to demand full funding of education.

Q: What is required under California law with regards to a strike?  What is the timeline?

A: California law governs the right of public employees to go on strike.  If negotiations reach “impasse” and the sides cannot come to an agreement, they are required under law to use outside parties to resolve the conflict prior to any work stoppage.  First a mediator will attempt to reach an agreement in a process which is informal and confidential. If mediation fails, a fact-finding panel is convened to conduct a formal hearing of evidence from both sides.  The panel includes one person appointed by the Union, one appointed by the employer, and a neutral hearing officer who can be appointed by the State Conciliation and Mediation Service. After weighing the testimony from both sides, the hearing officer writes an advisory report with recommendations for a settlement.  Once that report is made public, the Union has the right to strike, and the employer has the right to implement their final offer.