Welcome back to school! A lot happened over the summer to improve our wages and working conditions that you may have missed. Negotiations for the Teacher Chapter contract concluded with a landmark tentative agreement that significantly raises wages, maintains our healthcare plans, and introduces many new protections and benefits. These negotiations lasted 25 sessions with the district. We are very proud that our proposals came from dozens of meetings with members who voiced their ideas, concerns, and priorities. Here are some highlights from the two-year agreement:
- 2.25% salary increase for each of the next two school years, marking the BTU’s highest raises in over a decade and the highest increase on record for any education union in the state of Maryland this year.
- Healthcare costs will not change in the 2021-2022 school year, and they are subject to negotiations for the fiscal year 2023.
- BTU’s collective bargaining team also secured agreements on financial concerns that have been either absent from our contract or unchanged for many years. For the first time, summer school pay and stipend work are now set through an agreement with the BTU, rising to $40 or $50 per hour, depending on the task, from the meager $30/hour they had been for over two decades. These rates will also increase by 2.25% next year.
- Guaranteed salary placement for new hires based on experience and qualifications. We nearly doubled the rate of pay teachers earn at the New Teacher Summer Institute, which had not been changed since the early 2000s.
- New benefits include the ability to take intermittent leave for bonding time with a newborn, an individualized lactation plan for new mothers, and the ability to flexibly use bereavement leave.
- Computers are now guaranteed equipment if requested, and schools now must provide sufficient copy paper and toner to allow BTU members to do their jobs effectively.
- We also gained an agreement to improve certification processes with additional support and communication, as well as new processes regarding the notification of tenure and the loss of tenure.
- For the first time ever, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teachers have a dedicated section in the contract.
- Nearly every job title is gaining new protections and additional support initially generated from proposals shared directly by BTU members.
While we have many historic wins, we will continue advocating for better learning and working conditions through every opportunity. For example, on the issue of copy paper and access to copiers, the collective bargaining team made significant progress. We initially proposed unrestricted access to 1 working copier (with staples, ink, and paper) for each 25 staff members and prompt electronic notification of machine breakdowns. The Board rejected this proposal, but we got them to agree to “provide each school with a sufficient number of copy machines and a sufficient amount of copy paper, toner cartridges, and staple cartridges to allow bargaining unit members to perform their job duties, and in the event a copy machine breaks down or the school has no available toner, all bargaining unit members at that school shall receive a communication as soon as is reasonably possible notifying them that the copier machine is not functioning.” Although this language is substantially weaker than BTU’s initial proposal, this guarantee didn’t even exist in our contract before, so getting this language in our contract is a win. To get the contract language we want and deserve, we’ll execute coordinated action to address the challenges of paper and copiers while gathering data about exactly how much paper members are being provided and how much they need next school year to win stronger language in future contracts.
Over the coming weeks, the collective bargaining team will be providing details on all aspects of the agreement. Members will receive a PDF of the entire Tentative Agreement as soon as it is completed by the district’s and BTU’s legal teams. In the meantime, members can reference the Tentative Agreement Summary sent via email, which includes all new additions to the Teacher Chapter contract.
We want you to have as much information as possible before Teacher Chapter members vote on the contract. If you vote to approve it, the tentative agreement will go into effect. BTU will be hosting a series of Zoom meetings for members to learn more about the new contract throughout September. Some of these meetings will be held as general sessions, while others will focus on particular job titles that have unique contract language. You must be a BTU member and register in advance to participate. The contract vote will be happening during the second half of September. Electronic as well as in-person voting options will be available, with details forthcoming in future communications.
With the end of Teacher Chapter negotiations, the BTU will now engage in collective bargaining for the PSRP Chapter, which has a reopener on compensation for this school year. The entire PSRP contract will be up for negotiations in the spring of 2022. In the month of September the BTU will also begin negotiating with the district on a vaccine mandate that will impact all BCPSS staff.
Thank you for the exceptional dedication and persistence in your work with students, parents, and colleagues through extraordinary circumstances. Working as educators in BCPSS is incredibly challenging work that is too often under-resourced and inadequately supported. This Tentative Agreement helps fill some crucial gaps, and our union’s work will continue as we push for the schools both our students and staff deserve. Last year BTU engaged in an unprecedented number of General Membership Meetings and negotiations meetings for specific job titles that informed and directed BTU’s work, including these negotiations. These meetings will continue in 2021-2022 and beyond as we fight for the teaching and learning conditions students and educators need to thrive.
THE TEACHER CONTRACT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING TEAM
Diamonté Brown, BTU President
Natalia Bacchus, Executive Assistant to the President
John Casey, Field Representative, BTU
Maria Conway, CTE Teacher, Merganthaler Vocational Technical High School
Cristina Duncan Evans, Teacher Chapter Chair, BTU
Nathan Ferrell, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women
Corey Gaber, Elementary School Vice President, BTU
Brittany Johnstone, Special Services Vice President, Thomas Johnson Elementary Middle School, and Coppin Academy
Steve Mednick, Special Services Vice President, Carver Vocational Technical High School
Kimberly Mooney, Teacher Chapter Vice-Chair, JGP
Franca Muller Paz, Building Representative, City College
Patrice Pilgrim, Youth Opportunity
Fareeha Waheed, Elementary School Vice President, Eutaw Marshburn Elementary School
Zach Taylor, Middle School Vice President, BTU
Keith Zimmerman, BTU Attorney