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May 17, 2019 Negotiations Update

Negotiations Update: May 17, 2019
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Negotiations session: May 17th, 2019

BFT and BUSD negotiators met on May 17, 2019 for the fifth session of bargaining.


In a previous session, BFT proposed a 12% compensation increase over the next two years. On May 17th, BUSD increased its original offer from 2% to 2.25% for 2019-2020, with future years to be determined later.  BFT believes that this offer does not address the critical needs of our members and intends to continue negotiating for a meaningful raise. BUSD also proposed an increase in 2020-2021 contingent on passage of a local special tax for employee salaries.  BUSD has proposed a 3 year agreement.

BFT Proposals Presented on May 17th

Health Benefits

BFT proposed that BUSD pay half the amount of any increase in health benefits costs for the next two years. BFT President Cathy Campbell pointed out that the real solution to exorbitant health care costs is single payer health care, but in the meantime we must prevent benefits cost increases from eroding salary increases. “It is only fair that the district share the burden of any possible increases,” said Campbell, adding that benefits are a crucial element in recruiting new teachers.

Substitute Rates and Structure

BFT Vice President Matt Meyer presented a strong case in favor of increasing the substitute daily rate and improving the structure of their pay. BFT’s goal is to help address the acute sub shortage which is having a huge impact on student learning at all levels and to incentivize subs to work more in Berkeley.

The BFT proposal would increase the initial daily rate for subs from $153 to $182 for their first 30 days of service in BUSD. The rate would increase to $207 for any days beyond that.   Retired BUSD teachers who sub would be eligible for the higher rate on all days that they sub in Berkeley. Meyer noted that retired teachers are excellent subs, as they know our systems, curricula and community.

School Psychologists

BFT proposed to add two additional steps to the School Psychologist salary schedule, which currently has only 10 steps. Each additional step would include a 3% increase. These are highly trained and essential staff whose maximum pay is currently low compared to many surrounding districts.

Updates on Previous Proposals

Special Education

BUSD did not respond directly to previous BFT proposals that would reduce caseload caps  and limit the number of assessments that case managers could be required to perform. Instead, the district proposed a smaller subcommittee that would meet in the fall of 2019 to consider and make recommendations about possible changes to the current model. BFT does not intend to sign an agreement that does not include increased supports for our Full Inclusion program and will continue to push the district to address urgent concerns for 2019-2020.

Salary Schedule Placement

BFT and BUSD made substantial progress toward an agreement to eliminate the Step 12 salary schedule “freeze” and increase the number of years of credit given for prior service. This agreement would ensure that everyone currently impacted by the freeze will advance one or more years on the salary schedule as soon as it takes effect. The number of years of credit given for prior service will also increase gradually until it caps at 17 years.

Per Diem Pay for Elementary Teachers Covering Unfilled Sub Jobs

BUSD rejected BFT’s proposal to pay elementary teachers a percentage of the per diem rate when they accept extra students into their classrooms due to unfilled absences. Elementary teachers currently receive a portion of the daily sub rate, which is lower compensation that their secondary colleagues. The district cited cost as a reason for rejecting this proposal. BFT will continue to press for this low-cost change that will improve morale when teachers are trying to cope with extra, unplanned for students arriving suddenly into their classrooms.


Contract Expires June 30, 2019

If the current contract expires before BFT and BUSD reach a new agreement, the terms and conditions will continue to apply until a new agreement is reached. The two sides will continue to bargain.  

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.

For more information, see the Negotiations and Processes FAQ on the BFT website.


BFT General Membership Meeting May 30th

Come to the BFT General Membership meeting
Thursday, May 30, 4-5:15 pm
Berkeley Adult School Multipurpose Room

The BFT Negotiations Team will present an update on the status of negotiations. If a Tentative Agreement has been reached, the team will present the details and voting will begin at this time. If there is no agreement, we’ll make plans for continued high level activism starting in September. Your ideas and energy are essential to getting a great new contract!

Past Updates
All negotiations updates are posted on our website here.
Next Session
The next session is scheduled for May 28, 2019.
Questions, Comments, Feedback?

For information or to offer comments please contact BFT Vice-President Matt Meyer at

This Negotiations Update was prepared by BFT Treasurer Cynthia Allman and edited by the BFT Negotiations Team.
Berkeley Federation of Teachers, CFT/AFT, AFL-CIO

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1432 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 549-2307

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