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BFT Action - August 21st, 2019

In this issue: Union Accomplishments, Sept 18 School Board Mobilization, 2019- 2020 Contract Campaign
BFT Action--August Welcome Back Edition 
Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year!
September 18  School Board Mass Mobilization

BFT, BCCE and Berkeley Community Members

Our contract has expired and showing up in large numbers to this early School Board meeting will put pressure on the School Board to prioritize negotiations, to address the sustainability crisis impacting both certificated and classified staff, and to address the support needed in our full inclusion program! 

Students and families need a stable teacher and classified staff workforce. Teachers are worried about their ability to stay in BUSD for the long haul without a significant salary increase. Special Education Case Managers want to successfully implement our Full Inclusion model of education for all. 

All BFT Members should plan to attend the September 18th School Board Meeting to support our contract negotiations, which will resume September 12. Bring your family and friends!

Your site rep will provide more specific details about September 18 soon. 

BFT Accomplishments 2018-2019

BFT had many victories last year in advocating for our members, our students and for quality public education.

  • Important Early Contract Victories
    BFT successfully improved working conditions through negotiations this past spring. The District has agreed to increase the step placement cap to 15 years and eliminate the step 12 ‘freeze’ that existed previously. Any teacher under 12 years will no longer be frozen. Additionally, the District has agreed to cover 50% of any increase to health care costs for the next two years. BFT and the District have agreed to a new calendar starting in 2020 that will end First Semester at Winter Break. Once a contract is signed, all BFT members will be able to use 4 ‘no-tell’ personal leave days that will not require a reason for the leave. 

  • High Member Participation and Engagement
    BFT held regular membership meetings this past year as well as Negotiations Listening Sessions at almost every site. Over 70% of our members took the Negotiations Survey, giving the Negotiations Team critical information and feedback on key topics such as compensation, special education and possible major changes to the academic calendar.  We continued our visually appealing monthly e-newsletter, negotiations updates, and vibrant website.  

  • High Union Membership       
    BFT maintained a 98% membership rate and increased the number of members making voluntary monthly contributions to our PAC fund. 

  • Election Victories
    BFT organized multiple phone banks to support our endorsed candidates in the 2018 election. We successfully elected all three BFT endorsed School Board candidates. We also contributed to the passage of Berkeley’s Measures O and P supporting affordable housing. Our biggest statewide win was the election of Tony Thurmond for State Superintendent for Instruction.

  • Contract Campaign
    BFT members have participated in and escalated our contract campaign. We started the year with a speakers’ training, art build and Contract Action Team workshop. We have been present at school board meetings, sharing our sustainability stories throughout the year. Our board mobilization on March 13th was unprecedented. The May 22nd Day of Action in Sacramento involved over 750 Berkeley teachers, classified staff and community members. Our Contract Action Teams have built infrastructure at each site to activate and mobilize our members as we fight for a fair contract.

  • No STAR Testing Grades K-3
    Due to high member engagement, including packing a school board meeting, participating in surveys, attending meetings and continuous BFT pushback, the District has abandoned its plan to force teachers and students to participate in the STAR standardized computer testing for grades K-3. 

  • Statewide Fight to Fully Fund Public Education and Stop Privatization
    BFT has supported the statewide fight to fully fund public education. BFT is a member of the East Bay Coalition for Public Education and has supported California Educators United in building connections for coordinated statewide action like we saw on May 22nd. Our members supported the  Oakland and Los Angeles strikes by adopting schools and holding “walk-ins”. 



We have a new order of the RED Keep Teachers in Berkeley shirts, with art by Miriam Stahl. These shirts are being sold for $25 and run in unisex sizes S-XXL. Send an order form and payment to BFT through district mail and we'll send a shirt to your site!

2019- 2020 Contract Campaign
As we head into the new school year, we have an ambitious agenda to continue our  contract campaign. The Sustainability Crisis is impacting our members and our families.  
Help with Leafleting at the September 5 and September 12 Back to Schoo Nights
Mark your calendar! With a big school board mass mobilization approaching on September 18, it's time to mobilize our community. We'll be leafleting at Elementary and Middle School Back to School Night at each site. Specific information will be coming from your site rep. 
Sign up HERE to volunteer

Attend Our September 9 SPED Speaker's Training

BFT will be offering a speaker's training this Fall specifically developed around our SPED Contract Campaign. Members from all sites have attended previous speaker's trainings, and many spoke at School Board meetings last year. At this training, members can develop their own speeches that focus on student support, caseloads, and assessments. General Ed and Special Ed teachers are encouraged to attend.  Email Janine Waddell, BFT Vice-President, if you are interested in attending on September 9. The training will begin at 4:00 p.m. at 2020 Bonar St. Room 120.
Join the Downtown YMCA with No Registration Fee (All year Long!)
All BFT members are eligible to join the Y without paying the $99 - $150 enrollment fee all year long. You can also try out the Berkeley YMCA for free from September 15th through September 28th. To join, go to the Downtown Y with a photo ID and your BFT membership card.  If you do not have a card please call BFT at 549-2307.
Aurora Theater Offering Discounted Tickets to BFT Members

The Aurora Theater's production of EXIT STRATEGY runs from August 30- September 29. The play tells the story of five Chicago public school teachers, their vice principal, and a student who stand up against their failing school system 

Use the promo code COMMUNITYBFT, to purchase $20 tickets (up to 4 tickets per purchase) to any Sunday evening performance.

Oxford Teacher Jackie Omania received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. The award honors, supports, and encourages educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods. Jackie has focused her environmental education efforts on getting her students to think critically about how they generate waste in their daily lives and ways to reduce it.
California Retired Teachers Association Giving Away $100 Grants!
Each school year the California Retired Teachers Association holds three rounds of teacher grants. They have a 30-second sign-up form and randomly select 25 teachers for $100 grants - no strings attached!  Here the entry form.  The deadline for this round is September 12. Good luck!
Important Change to Direct Deposit Mailings
All Berkeley Unified Staff can now look up their Pay, Leave Balances, W-2’s and address of record by logging into

Click here for more detailed instructions about creating an account and logging in. 

Apply For a 2019-2020 Berkeley Public Schools Fund Classroom Grant
Online applications for Berkeley Schools Fund grants are now open! The deadline for the applications is midnight on Monday, September 30th. Click here for more information. Don’t wait until the last day to apply! New teachers—you can ask your BTSA support provider or a veteran colleague at your site to assist you. 
Did You Move Classrooms This Summer?

Teachers who are required by a district administrator, including principals and vice-principals, to move classrooms are entitled to receive up to twelve hours of pay at the curriculum development rate. We recommend that you keep a copy of the time sheet you turn in to your administrator.

Calendar of Coming Events
8/26/19 First Day of School
9/5/19 Elementary School Back To School Night
9/9/19 SPED Speaker's Training
9/12/19 Middle School Back To School Night
9/18/19 School Board Mass Mobilization
9/26/19 High School Back To School Night
9/30/19 Last Day to Apply for BPSF Grants
9/9/18-10/4/18 Open Enrollment for Benefits
Berkeley Federation of Teachers, CFT/AFT, AFL-CIO