Published On: February 10, 2022
Dear BTU members,

As we shared in our Tuesday bulletin, we have been negotiating with the School District and City Hall over the impacts of the December 20, 2021 vaccine policy, including over the weekend and yesterday. Throughout the process, protecting member jobs and protecting public health have been top priorities. Just before the start of the monthly membership meeting, we received a proposal that we were able to share with the membership, much like our last MOA. Although these negotiations constitute impact bargaining and do not require ratification or a vote of memership, we were prepared to take a poll vote to ensure members could weigh in. We have followed this exact, fully transparent process for other recent MOA’s. The agreement reached saves hundreds of member jobs.

After presenting the proposal, we had a period of Q&A, as well as an oportunity for members to share their thoughts on the proposal. During this time period, a motion was made from the floor to support the MOA. We then – as we always do – went into a period of debate, alternating for and against the motion, before taking the vote. The vote passed with 84% for the MOA and 16% against (212 to 39).

The MOA retains frontline educators, promotes equity, and advances public health. Toplines of the agreement are summarized here:

  • BTU educators who are currently unverified for vaccination will not be terminated if they do not comply with the December 20, 2021 policy. Instead, when certain BPHC metrics are met during a surge “Red Zone,” they would be temporarily placed on unpaid leave. This helps us to retain the 116 teachers, 133 paraprofessionals/ABAs and 118 Substitute teachers (out of 8,403 total BTU members) who are currently unverified and at risk of termination under the current policy.  
  • While on unpaid leave, BTU members would be able to access some of their accrued days of paid time off and continue to have their health care with the employer portion covered.
  • While in the “Yellow Zone,” un-verified educators would have to test twice a week using either PCR or rapid antigen tests.
  • During a “Green Zone,” there would be no difference in the mitigation policies between vaccinated and unverified members.
  • Those who have retired or resigned due to this policy would be able to be rehired and return to their positions if they choose to do so before March 15, 2022.
  • All new hires would need to comply with the December vaccination policy.
  • No one will go on unpaid leave so long as the court stay is in effect. 

Please see the full agreement and our full press release

Lastly, the Mayor had agreed to join our February Membership Meeting weeks ago after we extended an invitation shortly after her election last year. To be clear, her presence had nothing to do with the MOA. She was there to hear about our contract proposals and address BTU educators. Members were able to submit and “upvote” questions to her. The vaccine policy was not discussed, as no questions regarding the policy were upvoted. She did respond to important questions about our master contract bargaining, the superintendent search, state intervention, facilities, the mask mandate and other topics that members in attendance submitted. We thank her for her attendance and are glad we were also able to work with her administration to reach a deal today as well.

As is usually the case, our membership is not always 100% in agreement on every issue, but we hope that despite differences and strong feelings on various topics, we remember that we have much more in common than not – ultimately, we all have a shared interest in fighting for the schools and communities all of our students deserve.

In solidarity,
President Tang and BTU Officers & Staff

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