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May 28th, 2019 Negotiations Update

Negotiations Update: May 28th, 2019
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Negotiations session: May 28th, 2019

BFT and BUSD negotiators met for the sixth time on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. The two sides did not reach agreement on a contract to replace the current one, which expires on June 30, 2019. The terms and conditions of the current contract will continue until a new agreement is reached. Negotiations will resume in September.


BFT countered BUSD’s most recent proposal for a 2.25% salary increase in 2019-2020 with a proposal for 5.75% in 2019-2020. The union also proposed a guaranteed increase for 2020-2021 that is to be determined, along with an additional increase that is contingent on passing a local special tax for salaries. BFT is convinced that new local revenue is required to help make BFT members’ compensation competitive with other districts in the region.

Agreements Reached

Eliminating Step 12 Salary Freeze and Increasing Years of Credit

In a major victory that will affect at least 125 teachers next year, BFT and BUSD signed an agreement that eliminates the salary freeze at Step 12. All teachers currently affected by the freeze will advance one or more steps on the salary schedule. Teachers who have worked in other districts prior to being hired in BUSD and who have not yet reached Step 12 will move through the steps without any freeze in the future. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will take effect in 2019-2020, even if a full contract agreement is not reached by the beginning of the school year. BFT will provide detailed information to those affected in September. 

The MOU also includes a phased increase to the number of years of credit new hires will receive for Step placement for prior service in another district, topping out at 17 years by 2021-2022.

BUSD to Share the Cost of Benefits Increases for the Next Two Years

In another gain for BFT members, BUSD has agreed to pay half the cost of any potential health benefits cost increases through 2021. BFT persuaded the district that it needs to “share the pain” of benefits cost increases.


Proposal Updates

Special Education 

BFT stood by its original proposal for reduced caseloads and limits on the number of assessments that could be required. At the last session, BUSD proposed a bargaining subcommittee to recommend possible changes to the current Special Education structure. BFT responded with interest in the idea, noting that strong teacher input regarding any potential changes is crucial, but proposed an expedited timeline that reflects the urgency of this issue.

BUSD Rejects Proposals on Independent Studies

BFT previously proposed that BIS teachers be placed on the K-12 salary schedule and that they be granted a path to permanent status. BUSD rejected both proposals on the basis of cost. BFT pointed out that granting BIS teachers the right to become permanent would have minimal financial impact. BFT plans to reintroduce these proposals when negotiations resume in the fall after consultation with BIS members.


BUSD Rejects Increase to Hourly Teaching Rate

Again citing costs, BUSD rejected the BFT proposal to increase the hourly teaching rate to $55 per hour. BFT argued that the current rate of $36.56 does not reflect the expertise of the teachers providing crucial after school instruction to small groups, nor does it provide an incentive for more teachers to do this valuable work. BFT President Cathy Campbell expressed dismay. “Credentialed teachers are by far the best people to provide extra support for struggling students. We believe that our members want to do this work, but they want to be compensated fairly for it.”

Substitute Compensation and Structure

Citing costs, BUSD rejected the BFT proposal to increase compensation for substitute teachers. BFT argued that with the sub shortage, BUSD needs to increase compensation and create incentives for working in Berkeley. We believe that without a change, BUSD's sub shortage will continue and possibly worsen. We will continue to push the District to address the sub crisis.


Rally and March at the September 18th School Board Meeting

Mark your calendar now!

BFT activism has already resulted in gains at the table, but the fight is not over! We need to keep up the pressure in order to win the salary increases and student supports we need. Be ready to answer the call to union activism in September.

Stay informed, stay active and stay unified!


Past Updates
All negotiations updates are posted on our website here.
Next Session
The BFT and BUSD teams will meet again for an all-day session in early September.
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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