Building Rep Resources

Building Rep Resources2023-09-24T22:45:48+00:00

Building Representatives

Building Representatives hold a very important role in not only our union, but in our schools as well. In general, there are five main roles of Building Representatives. These roles are described below:


Building Representatives, by definition, represent our members and the Boston Teachers Union. Our building representatives must be effective leaders that other members feel comfortable turning to for support in a variety of ways. It is important to be approachable and to model professionalism as a lead educator so that you are in the best position possible to advocate for what is needed to improve the school, support our members, and best serve our students. It is important to lead by example, take initiative, and act as a team player.


Building Reps help other staff to understand BTU positions and policy, to learn about changes that are happening in the field, to learn about opportunities to become more engaged, and to help members make their voices heard in the union and policy world. To be a great communicator, it is important to STAY INFORMED! It is absolutely important that Reps attend membership and Building Rep meetings; open, read and respond to emails and mailings you receive; and read the E-Bulletin each week. It is also important to become familiar with the contract, read the BTU Newspapers, and above all ASK QUESTIONS if you don’t understand something or need help! The union depends on building reps for two-way communication.


That means having your building structured so that there is a visible, functioning Union network that can be used to not only enforce the contract, but to advocate for positive changes to improve our schools and beyond. There should be structures for members to meet regularly, communicate information between members, and to engage members in larger efforts to improve not just your own school, but beyond. It is our job to educate our new members about the importance of the Union and to encourage their participation. We must build organizational capacity by signing up new members, listening to what our members need, having conversations to build community, and taking action as needed.


As a problem solver, Building Reps help to mediate conflicts, overcome challenges, and facilitate productive communication between our members and the administration. Serving as an active member of the Faculty Senate is one way to do so. You can help in the day-to-day school activities and keep the Senate informed about Union policy. But it may go beyond the Senate. You may be required to meet with the building administration to iron out school problems, especially as they relate to areas of the contract. And, of course, it includes handling grievances at Step One. The Field Reps are always available to support you in this aspect of your role.


Especially for members new to a building, Representatives act as someone they can turn to for help and to get questions answered, and to feel welcomed into a new environment. Reps should be the first to welcome new members. The BTU is a collection of all of us sharing our common hopes, and aspirations, and our friendship. Alone and isolated we are just employees. Together, we are the Boston Teachers Union.

Be prepared! Make sure you have the following tools handy to help you. Anything you’re missing can be picked up at the BTU office:

  • Contracts, including Election to Work Agreements, Innovation Plans, or Charter MOUs if applicable
  • Building Rep Handbook
  • Membership Applications/COPE cards
  • Voter Registration Cards
  • List of all BTU members at your school including phone and personal email
  • Lists: members of your school’s current School Site Council, as well as, your school’s By-Laws, ILT members, SST members, and Parent Council members.
  • Website addresses:

Each school or group is allowed one (1) representative for every twenty-five (25) Union members or portion thereof. Elections should be held and the results reported in writing to the Union office by June 1. Thereafter, the attendance sheets for meetings will be set up to determine eligibility for the Building Rep stipend.

School Governance

The BTU Building Rep, the School Site Council (SSC) , the Faculty Senate, the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), along with the principal/headmaster, make up the school governance community in every school. Their actions and decisions affect the quality of the teaching and learning that goes on in our buildings every day and the degree of personal and professional satisfaction we derive from our jobs.

Building Rep FAQ

Complete Your Building Representative Election Results Form2023-07-14T19:22:24+00:00

If you haven’t already done so, please complete a copy of the Report of Building Rep Election Results for SY2022-23. Download the PDF for printing, or complete the online form below.

Please complete this form after electing Building Reps. Each Building Rep will receive a $1,000 stipend in return for completion of necessary building activities and attendance and sign-in of at least 70% of Membership/Building Rep. Meetings.


Boston Education Justice Alliance (BEJA) Resources2023-03-30T17:05:48+00:00
More Building Rep Resources2023-03-30T17:09:25+00:00
How to File a Grievance2023-04-28T14:04:27+00:00

One of the most important duties of the Building Representative is the handling of grievances at Step One. Therefore, it is imperative that all Building Representatives become thoroughly familiar with the “Dispute Resolution” sections of the contract, and especially with the paragraphs which deal with the filing of a grievance at the school level. This is found in Article X of the teacher contract and Article V of the paraprofessional, substitute, and ABA contracts.

Put in general terms, a “grievance” is a statement which says that a teacher’s rights have been violated due to a misinterpretation or misapplication of the contract. It is not a general complaint or claim of unfair treatment.

The importance of filing a grievance when applicable is obvious. A grievance must be filed every time an individual teacher’s rights are violated in order to protect the rights of the entire membership.

The following is a list of guidelines which the Building Rep should follow in filing a grievance.

  • Gathering information before meeting with the Administrator
    • Get all the facts from the teacher(s) involved in the grievance.
    • Get copies of all pertinent documents related to the grievance, e.g. bulletins, notices, letters, e-mails, memos, etc. (Building representatives have the right to obtain copies of all official school documents).
    • Examine the contract and locate any articles of the contract that have been violated.

  • Initial meeting with the Administrator
    • Request a meeting with the Administrator and the teacher(s) involved.
    • Present the case orally. Show documents and cite the contract violation(s). Explain the Union’s position and request that the violation be resolved.
    • It is of the utmost importance that in these meetings the Building Representatives be prepared, be professional and remain courteous (but firm). Do not insult the Administrator or attempt to intimidate him or her in any way. On the other hand, do not approach the Administrator as a subordinate. In this situation, as a representative of the Union the Building Representative is on equal ground with the Administrator.
    • Make every effort to reach a resolution consistent with the contract at this meeting. This will save time, work, and money for the Union and possibly considerable inconvenience for the grievant.

  • Written Grievance
    • If the Administrator is unwilling to resolve the grievance at this meeting, file a written grievance with the Administrator. (Be sure to make several copies of the grievance – one for yourself, one for the grievant and one for the Union office.)
    • The grievance letter should be succinct but civil. It should include the following information; Name and position of the grievant, Statement of the grievance, Action requested, and Name of Union Representative. (See sample grievance letter at the end of this section.) Send a copy of the grievance to the appropriate Field Representative.

  • Contacting the Union Office
    • If the Administrator denies the grievance or fails to respond to the grievance within five school days, a Field Representative should be contacted. You can call 617-288-2000 or email the appropriate Field Rep.
    • Send copies of the grievance letter and all pertinent documents to the Union office via email to your Field Representative, via mail to 180 Mt. Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA 02125 or fax to 617-288-0024.
    • The Field Rep will refer the grievance to mediation, and if the grievance is deemed valid by the union, two trained mediators will meet with the grievant and the administrator. If this fails, Step Two of the grievance procedure will be handled by the union’s Executive Vice President.

  • While the Grievance is in Progress
    • The Building Representative should request the Administrator to put in writing any disputed orders or assignments.
    • The Building Representative should not advise a teacher to disobey or ignore an Administrator’s order while a grievance is in progress. This may well hurt the chances for a successful resolution of the grievance and possibly leave the teacher open to charges of insubordination.

  • Sample Grievance Letter:

    Dear Headmaster Washington,

    This letter is to inform you that I am filing a grievance at step one on behalf of Mr. John Adams, a member of the English Department at the Jefferson Elementary School. Mr. Adams’s grievance is that on Tuesdays he is assigned to teach periods one, two, three and four totaling 200 minutes.

    This program is in violation of the Contract including but not limited to Article V. Section A 3 (d) which states:

    “Teachers shall not be required to teach more than 160 minutes without a lunch break, planning and development period, or an administrative duty.”

    In order to resolve this contract violation, Mr. Adams must be relieved of one of his four consecutive classes.

    Respectfully yours,
    Mary Smith-Jones
    B.T.U. Building Representative

Back to School Building Rep Resources

As a building rep, you are the backbone of this 10,000 member-strong union. You also are never alone – there are many resources and a union family here to support you. Below you will find materials to support you in your role and to keep members plugged into BTU activities as the new school year begins. Hard copies of these materials are also being mailed to your home address. If you don’t receive them by Labor Day, please contact Natasha ( to make sure we have your correct mailing address on file.

30 Minute Meeting: Remember that every school needs to run a BTU 30 minute back-to-school meeting during PD hours. Most schools will hold this meeting on Wednesday, September 6 (as spelled out in the red contract book on p. 49). A slide deck presentation can be found HEREMake sure to look at the speaker notes for more guidance on how to run the meeting and feel free to make a copy so you can modify the presentation to meet your school’s needs.

Building Rep Orientation: All building reps are strongly encouraged to attend a building rep orientation on Wednesday, August 30 from 10-11:30am or Thursday, August 31 from 4:30-6:00pm. This orientation is designed to benefit all building reps, not just new ones. At this meeting we will review slides for the BTU 30 minute back-to-school meeting and go over what you need to know to start the school year strong. In addition, you will learn requirements to earn your stipend for the year. Please RSVP HERE.

Materials: Materials can be shared at the 30-minute meeting and posted on the union bulletin board in your building.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your BTU Field Representative for contract and grievance questions or one of our organizers for assitance in mobilizing your fellow members. Lea-Antoinette Serena is the Elementary School Field Rep and Erika Kouka is the Elementary Organizer. Caren Carew is the Secondary School Field Rep and Katina McClain is the secondary organizer. Colleen Hart is the field rep for paraprofessionals, substitutes and ABAs and receives support from the whole organizing team. You can also reach out to Natalia Cuadra-Saez, BTU Organizing Director.
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