Thank you to the over 2,000 BTU members who joined us for our 4.5 hour-long membership meeting this evening. During this meeting, we discussed the Suffolk Superior Court’s decision to decline to provide an immediate order to BPS to return to full remote instruction. The decision of the judge not to intervene does NOT mean that we lost the grievance or that we won’t pursue it. It will just take longer for the court process to be completed. Filing the court injunction still resulted in important wins, including air purifiers for nurses’ offices, additional air purifiers for some special education classrooms and an expedited reopening plan process.
While we continue to view the language in the MOU differently than BPS, what is most important is that we figure out a collaborative plan as soon as possible that includes safe staffing ratios, that reduces the viral footprint in our school buildings, and that ensures high-quality in-person instruction for our highest-needs students. Please see our full press statement. We knew we may not win this court battle, but it wasn’t just about getting the stay, it was about taking a stand and showing that we will not be ignored or pushed aside – while sending a message that the district must create a better, safer plan.
The legal avenue is just one of many that we will continue to pursue in our fight for safe and equitable schools during this pandemic. We will continue to stand with and to support our educators who choose to work remotely, as well as the educators that continue to go into buildings – many under questionable conditions.That includes the 74% of our members surveyed tonight who are going into buildings that are too cold to work in. If it’s not safe for educators, it’s not safe for students, and we will continue to fight through other means as well.
Our power as a union comes from our members, not from judges or government entities. When BTU officers speak to the Mayor or the Superintendent, our voices matter only because they know we have thousands of members standing beside us. The negotiating team can fight for better working conditions when the people across the table know that they have thousands of members standing beside them. Our legal tactics, such as grievances and injunctions, whether or not we “win” them, have more power when they are backed up by the actions of thousands of members.
We are professionals and we are workers, and as workers, our power comes from a united willingness to advocate together to take collective action. Tonight, we made it clear that we will be preparing over the next days and weeks to be ready to take collective work action, no matter what happens in the coming days. The ability to take collective work action is what makes us powerful as a union. We know we need overwhelming support for this to be successful and we will continue to build our power to prepare for bolder actions. You can find the schedule for our collective Week of Action here. We are also encouraging you to post and share photos of yourselves with these signs tomorrow. You can print, fill out, and take pictures with the sign, or draw a similar sign if you don’t have a printer.
In the interim, we continue to encourage all school communities to design and submit alternative work plans for HIPP students first. As shared this evening, this is now the quickest way to improve the teaching and learning condidtions that we know are insufficient for both students and educators. Please work with your school leader to submit a plan to your regional superintendent, and then let your field rep know once it has been submitted.
We will continue to advocate for the health, safety and equity of learning experiences for all of our students, and respect for our educators. We are not done, we are just getting started.
In solidarity and #InThisTogether,
BTU Officers and Staff