Published On: March 14, 2017

From East Boston to Hyde Park, Brighton to Dorchester, Charlestown to Roxbury, Chinatown to West Roxbury, Pilot and traditional, Horace Mann Charters and Innovation Schools and everywhere in between, thousands of our members braved the snowy cold last Friday to show their determination to settle our contract. An estimated 117 schools participated in this event. We thank all who participated. See photos from across the city.

After 15 months of negotiation, we are still far apart on key issues, and the School Department hasn’t responded to us since February 13, when we gave them counter offers on two major items. Here are just a few of the outstanding issues:

  • How can the district provide better support for our inclusion classes? We want to improve learning conditions in our inclusion classes, which serve our students most in need. Our students need support, and our classrooms must have firm class size maxima, along with paraprofessionals assigned to assist. The School Department has resisted all of the preceding, and under their proposal, current conditions – as bad as they are – would worsen.
  • Pay equity for our staff in pilots, Innovations, Horace Mann Schools, and Level V schools: Why should our teachers in autonomous schools have to work 95 to 600+ more hours per year than teachers in some traditional schools for virtually no compensation?
  • We want to ensure that our early-career teachers, who haven’t yet been able to accumulate sufficient paid time, can obtain leave with pay for maternity purposes as well as other needs. The city has granted this benefit to all non-unionized employees. We want the same benefit for our members.

After 220 hours of negotiations, the district has barely budged. We can’t wait any longer.

Next week, on Wednesday March 22, the School Committee will take up a final budget vote. We will be there to let the committee and others know that we are determined to obtain a fair contract settlement. Buses will leave from the BTU beginning at 3:30, and we will begin gathering at the Bolling Building at 4:30. We’ll stay until 7 PM and will rally around the Bolling Building to express our displeasure with the stalled talks. We’ve waited long enough.

With no small dose of hypocrisy, Boston Public Schools released a slick video last week describing how much the district “values” our teaching force. Sorry, but we’re not buying that. Here’s what Superintendent Chang said in the video, starting at the 1:30 mark:

In Boston Public schools, we value our teachers by making sure that their voice is heard. We value our teachers by making sure that they are well compensated. And we value our teachers to be the change agents in their young people’s lives.

If we are truly valued, as Dr. Chang insists, and if we are truly “heard,” then Dr. Chang has an obligation to attend negotiations himself and listen to us, engage with us, and lead his team in earnest negotiations to settle this contract. Otherwise, Dr. Chang’s words, regretfully, ring hollow.

We need your presence on Wednesday, March 22 at the Bolling Building from 4:30 to 7 PM as we seek a contract that is good for students, good for schools, and fair to our members. Thank you.

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