Berkeley teachers protest
Members of Berkeley Federation of Teachers protested outside Old City Hall on May 8 over contract negotiations. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The Berkeley Unified School District and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers have agreed to a retroactive across-the-board 2.5% wage increase and reached consensus on other contract negotiations for 2012-2013.

All wages, including salaries, stipends, daily rates and hourly rates for BFT members will be adjusted to reflect a 2.5% increase, effective July 1, 2012, the district announced in a statement released last night.

Teachers will also receive an additional one-time payment equal to 2.5% of his/her 2012-2013 salary. The district contribution to health and welfare benefits remains unchanged.  This is in addition to the 1% bonus negotiated for all employees in the fall of 2012.

School psychologists and providers of designated instructional services, with the exception of speech and language pathologists, will be assigned on a district-wide basis.

The agreement comes after many months of negotiations and several bumps in the road. An inability to reach consensus prompted protest rallies and emotional public testimony from BFT teachers to the BUSD Board on several occasions.

The teachers’ contract expired in June 2012, but that contract was just an extension of the July 2008 agreement, which was intended to last two years. Both the teachers union and the BUSD agreed to extensions with no salary increases during the worst of the economic recession.

Earlier this year, BFT proposed a one-time 10% bonus, paid from part of the BUSD’s $8.7 million ending fund balance. BUSD rejected that proposal, and offered a 1% raise for 2013-14.  In response, BFT proposed an increase of 5.2% of current salaries, retroactive to last July.

In March Campbell said negotiations were “not going smoothly” and teachers wanted to explain the situation “before we turn to more high stakes actions (such as ‘working to rule’), which hopefully we will not have to do.”

In the statement issued yesterday addressing the new agreement, BUSD Co-Superintendent Javetta Cleveland said: “Our teachers are an integral part of our ability to move our vision forward to ensure that all students achieve at the highest level. During the toughest economic times, we worked closely together to ensure that the District stayed solvent.  This agreement clearly demonstrates that we value our partnership.  We hope to successfully finalize negotiations with our other unions in the near future.”

Cathy Campbell, BFT President, said: “This agreement provides a small raise while keeping our district within its means and putting the needs of students front and center. The agreement provides some relief to the hard working employees who serve our students and families every day.”

And BUSD Board President Karen Hemphill said: “I am glad that we are in better economic times and are able to reach an agreement that shows our appreciation for the work that our teachers do every day to help our students succeed.”

The agreement is subject to ratification by the BFT and approval by the BUSD Board of Education. Negotiations for the next contract will begin in October.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...