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. We talked with hundreds of individual members and 99% of those employees recommitted to BFT by completing a new membership form.
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.
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 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 Rising 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”.