The Boston Teachers Union is the exclusive collective bargaining agent for the school system’s 7,000 teachers, other non-administrative, professional employees, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. We also represent 2,600 retirees.
- American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
- AFT Massachusetts (formerly MFT)
- AFL-CIO, Mass AFL-CIO
- Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC)
- Negotiate and enforce the contract
- Provide the best education we can for the system’s students
- Represent the membership in all matters related to their professional work
- Answer job-related questions and assist in any job-related matter
- Promote the growth of — and respect for — our profession
- Work with the community to ensure our schools are the best as they can be
- Promote the strengthening of public education
- Work to ensure adequate funding to support improvements in public education
- Work through COPE to elect pro-public education, pro-union candidates.
We sponsor a range of social and charitable events including:
- BTU night at the Celtics
- BTU members’ holiday party for children and grandchildren
- BTU golf tournament to benefit domestic violence hotline
- Homework help/parent outreach at the Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club
- Scholarships to BPS students & dependents of BTU members. Last year we gave $66,000.
- Fund Raiser for Pine Street Inn and Rosie’s Place in March
- A variety of social get togethers, at the beginning, mid, and end of year including a reception for new staff and a reception for new teachers, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers in the Fall. (You will receive an invitation)
- Educational forums. In recent years, we had several forums featuring: Diane Ravitch, author of the best selling book The Death and Life of the Great American School System and arguably the most influential education commentator on today’s education battles; anti-standardized test crusader Alfie Kohn; Richard Rothstein, author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap; Jim Crawford, noted author of Educating English Learners: Language Diversity in the Classroom.
Although your benefits and rights begin generally when you do (see below for details about health insurance), you are not officially a union member until you sign a membership application card. Signing the card and giving it to your Building Representative ensures membership, the right to vote in union elections, and membership with our affiliates.
The regular BTU membership meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 4:00 PM. Meetings generally last for 2 to 3 hours and are held at our headquarters at Bayside Mall in Dorchester, near the Boston Globe, and the U Mass Red Line T Stop. Get directions.
First, get a membership application card from your BTU Building Rep. Fill it out, and return it. Then you’ll become a member and receive a BTU Membership card. You will then get on our mailing list and you will receive:
- Membership letters
- BTU e-Bulletin sign-up here.
- Boston Union Teacher, the monthly union newspaper
- The Advocate, the AFT-Massachusetts monthly newspaper
- AFT magazine
In addition, provisional teachers receive periodic mailings:
- Fall: welcome letter about rights and benefits
- Winter: Understanding the teacher assignment process for the upcoming year
- June: More assignment information, what to expect over the summer
- Visit the BTU office at 180 Mount Vernon Street in Dorchester. Business hours are 8-5, all weekdays including school vacations. The office is closed on state, local, and national holidays, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Good Friday.
- Call 617-288-2000.
- Exlpore this website.
- Email individual officers and staff (see below).
- Sign up for BTU enews bulletin online.
All policy is set by the membership at its regularly scheduled monthly membership meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 4:00 PM at union headquarters. All members are welcome to attend.
The BTU’s policy board is its Executive Board, served by 12 members elected at large every two years.
Serving as a direct link between the union office and the membership are elected BTU Building Representatives from every building and program in the city. BTU Building Reps are elected each year to service the members at each school site and act as the liaisons between the union office and our membership in our schools.
You can start by attending a membership meeting. We also have various committees, some of which are looking for volunteers. Many members write articles for the union newspaper. Still others become Building Representatives. We are interested in involving new activists. Please feel free to stop by or call one of us and we can discuss your interests.
Before you call, ask your local Building Representative. He or she represents the union in your school and has generally had experience in many of the matters that affect each of us.
If you still need help, there are eight of us you can call. Initial questions on contract implementation, payroll problems, possible grievances, and the like should be directed to:
Michael McLaughlin, Elementary Field Rep.
firstname.lastname@example.org — if you’re an elementary teacher/nurse/etc.
Caren Carew, Secondary Field Rep.
email@example.com — if you are a secondary school teacher, etc.
Josefina Lascano, Paraprofessional/Substitute Teacher Field Rep
firstname.lastname@example.org — if you are a paraprofessional or substitute teacher
If you have questions about the union’s political activities or about our Committee on Political Education (COPE), please direct them to:
Angela Cristiani, Political Director
If you have a question about the union’s operations, dues, and the like, please call:
Charles Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer at 617-288-2000 or email@example.com
Questions about outstanding grievances, contract questions or interpretation should be directed to:
Pat Connolly, Vice-President at 617-288-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any other questions, please call:
Richard Stutman, President at 617-288-2000 or email@example.com
Although each of us has individual responsibilities, we all routinely pinch hit for each other and are reasonably familiar with all aspects of the union’s work. In other words, if you need an immediate answer, we ought to be to help you right away even if the appropriate person is not in the office at that time. In any case, leave a message or email one of us and you will get a quick return call.
Too numerous to mention. See the benefits section of the appropriate Contract Highlights section of this website for detailed descriptions. Essentially, if you work at least half time, you are eligible for a variety of excellent, negotiated benefits including a sick leave bank, a dependent care/flexible spending plan and a job-sharing plan.
Health insurance is provided to the membership through the city of Boston’s Group Insurance Office at 617-635-4570. Call that number for more information or visit the office at Boston City Hall, Room 807. Or visit the BPS website.
You have only 60 calendar days from your first day of service to register. The 60 days is FIRM. Sign up for health insurance by calling 617-635-4570.
Health insurance coverage is delayed by city contract; if you sign up for coverage in August, it won’t normally begin until October 1.
You can only change plans during the next Open Enrollment period, which occurs in the Spring for health insurance that will take effect on July 1.
The BTU’s Health and Welfare Plan includes eye care, dental care, legal care, and a sick and personal leave plan. Visit the Health and Welfare Fund’s website for more information. For enrollment in the plan, call the Health and Welfare Office at 617- 288-5883. Ask for a brochure which gives a detailed explanation of all benefits. Or visit their offices are next door to the BTU offices at the BTU union hall.
The Flexible Spending Program allows our members to set aside funds on a pre-tax basis for medical needs, day care needs and transportation (T, parking) costs. It has its annual open enrollment period coming up from 10/12 to 11/5. Hundreds of our members currently participate in this tax-advantaged program.
Dependent Care Plan: The Dependent Care FSA is a great tax savings for people who have children in daycare or parents that require elder care. The IRS allows you to set aside up to $5,000 pre-tax from your paycheck to pay for these expenses. In most instances, participation in the Dependent Care FSA results in a greater tax savings than the Dependent Care Tax Credit. (We recommend you speak with your tax advisor to determine which would provide the greatest tax benefit for you.) Some examples of eligible Dependent Care Expenses are: daycare, pre-school, before school care, after school care, and summer day camp.
The Medical Dental Care plan allows a set aside of $5,000 for out-of-pocket medical expenses: doctor visits, prescriptions, deductibles, and so on. See here for more examples of deductibles.
The Transportation Benefit Plan allows you to set aside an amount pre-tax from your paycheck to pay for certain parking and transportation expenses subject to the following limits:
- Parking Reimbursement Account: Allows you to pay for your daily or monthly parking expenses up to $230.00 per month.
- Mass Transit Reimbursement Account: Allows you to pay for your mass transit expenses related to your commute to work up to $230 per month.
Every year the BTU awards roughly 16 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 to high school seniors who are dependents of BTU members. Click here for the application.
In addition, the Retired Teachers Chapter of the Boston Teachers Union awards three scholarships to deserving high school seniors who are children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews of RTC members. One of these scholarships is earmarked for a student who might choose to attend a vocational school or equivalent institution. Click here for the application.
All members belong automatically to the public pension system, which entitles all vested employees to a fixed, predictable pension at retirement age. In addition, all employees are eligible to join either — or both — voluntary retirement savings programs: the 403(b) plan, which operates like a 401(k); and the 457 plan, which also operates like a 401(k).
Michael McLaughin (firstname.lastname@example.org) holds a seminar twice a year, in October and March. Check the website for the date. He has a packet of information, too, for the asking. Call the union office for a copy.
Basically, the city offers two types of plans that are voluntary retirement savings programs: a Tax Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Plan that you can set up with a variety of vendors, 40+ in all; and a 457 or State Deferred Compensation Plan plan run by ING,(formerly Aetna). Both work similarly, though each has unique characteristics.
Visit the Planning for Retirement page for more information.