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REALM Closure and Employee Rights FAQ

This guide is meant to address some of the questions we are receiving from BFT members with regard to the closure of REALM. This is a work in progress and will be updated as needed. If you have a question that is not addressed in this FAQ please email your question to president@berkeleyteachers.org.

Q: When will teachers be paid their last check from REALM (which would include June wages and Summer Hold Back for those that have Summer Hold Back)?

A: This is unclear at this time. While Victor had assured BFT and employees that payroll could be met regardless of the decision on a Compass merger Victor now reports that REALM cannot make payroll for June (with Summer Hold Back).

Q: What options are being explored to secure funds to pay employees?

A: Victor has asked BUSD for an advance of funds so that he can pay employees. We believe he has also asked his lender, Charter School Capital, for an advance. These advances would be based on money REALM expects to receive from the State, including rent reimbursement. It will take 4-7 weeks for REALM to receive the rent reimbursement funds, assuming they are approved by the State. Victor reports that REALM’s basic State funding for June is expected soon.

Q: What are the options for REALM employees if employees are not paid soon?

A: Our attorney reports that the best course of action is to file a Small Claims Court claim at the downtown Berkeley office. BFT is going to provide a template of a claim later today.

Q: What happens if my Small Claims Court claim is approved?

A: If you receive approval (a “judgment”) for your claim you can then file a lien, which means REALM must pay its debts to you with any revenue they have available. First in line for payments are government entities (taxes, STRS payments, etc.) and then employees are next in line for payment.

Q: Am I eligible for unemployment?

A: If you had not already separated from REALM you may qualify for unemployment insurance payments. Please see the last page of this document for tips from BFT regarding filing for unemployment.

Q: What are some KEY things I can do to protect my rights in this situation?

● Please make sure that both REALM AND BFT have current contact information for you, and summer contact information for you if you will not be at your regular address.

● We recommend requesting documentation of your current sick leave from REALM. We recommend sending an email requesting that from Eva with a cc to BFT (president@berkeleyteachers.org)

Q: What will happen to my benefits?

A: Your medical coverage through REALM will end as of June 30, 2019. BFT has asked REALM to provide every employee with a letter certifying this date so that employees have this verification if they choose to pursue coverage via Covered California. Being laid off and losing coverage via an employer is a qualifying event that allows a person to enroll in coverage outside of the normal open enrollment period.

Q: What will happen to my accrued sick leave balance?

A: BFT strongly recommends that every employee request verification of this balance in writing from REALM. This leave may be transferable to new employment.

Q: How will I know if my STRS service credit has been reported correctly by REALM for 2018-2019?

A: It is CRITICAL that every REALM teacher check their service credit in SEPTEMBER when service credit for 2018-2019 should be fully reported to STRS. If you believe that your service credit for 2018-2019 was not reported correctly you should contact BFT via email or phone (510-549-2307). If employees are not paid in full they will not earn a full year’s service credit with STRS for 2018-2019.

BFT Information for REALM Teachers: Unemployment Insurance

The best way to apply for unemployment benefits is online at www.edd.ca.gov.

Every REALM employee that was intending on staying or had not yet formally separated from REALM should apply for Unemployment Insurance.

Even if you are not sure how much you will receive, YOU SHOULD APPLY.

When you apply, you will be asked for your Social Security number, as well as the name and address of your employer.

For the address of your employer you should list 2023 Eighth Street, Berkeley, CA, 94710.

As a REALM contact you should list Victor Diaz at (510) 672-4653.

Here is some helpful information for question #30 if you are a BFT member: You are a member of a Union. Your Union name and number is Berkeley Federation of

Teachers, AFT 1078. You are in good standing. Your Union does not look for work for you or control hiring. Members do NOT register with BFT as out of work.

EDD will make a decision based on the information you provide. If your claim is denied, don't despair and don't give up. We strongly recommend that you appeal. EDD may need more information, or may have misinterpreted something that you provided. Many claims that were initially denied have been won on appeal.

If you need to talk to an EDD representative in person, you can visit the Oakland EDD office located at 7677 Oakport St, in Oakland. This is out by Oakland International Airport. You should call ahead for hours and availability of EDD representatives at (510) 564-0500.

Updated 8/19/19