Boston Teachers Union releases first proposal in new contract negotiations

The Boston Teachers Union issued a major proposition for his next three-year contract.

Union leaders said their priorities were based on feedback from a large group of stakeholders outside of the teachers they represent, including parents, students and community members.

“Facilities have definitely become a top priority,” said Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union. “I think the pandemic has increased our focus on facilities because of its impact on our efforts to try to get our students back to school in the safest way possible.”

The new proposal includes large items for school facilities, such as installing HVAC systems in all school buildings. The union also wants any new building or large-scale construction project to include green spaces on site or nearby.

Requests for smaller facilities were also highlighted. The union demands that every teacher be equipped with equipment such as multiple sockets, extension cords and mounted projectors. The union also wants teachers to receive a three-month supply of cleaning supplies like disinfectant spray, paper towels and hand soap.

When it comes to social and emotional learning, the BTU wants the district to maintain a system-wide average ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students enrolled in BPS schools and that there be at least one worker. social designated by school.

Other student-focused proposals include plans to provide kindergarten spaces for all 4-year-olds in Boston by the 2023-24 school year. The union also wants the district to provide additional support staff for students with disabilities and with English learning needs.

In an email, officials from Boston Public Schools said they appreciate the hard work and dedication of the district educators, who have just completed the most difficult year of their careers. The district added that it was “committed to engaging in constructive dialogue to negotiate fair and equitable working conditions with the Boston Teachers Union at the bargaining table.”

The current BTU contract expires August 31. Union leaders said they were not optimistic about the approval of a new three-year contract at that time, but they recognize that pandemic-related issues have understandably delayed the process.

Formal negotiations with Boston Public Schools began last week, and Tang said additional negotiation dates were on the schedule. She added that if a deal is not reached by the end of next month, union members will continue to work under the old contract and try to negotiate a new deal as quickly as possible.

Tensions between the BTU and BPS have been high over the past year as the two sides negotiated working conditions when COVID-19 infection rates in the city were either on the rise or hovering at low worrying levels. Shortly before students with complex learning needs returned to school buildings in December, the union passed a vote of no confidence in District Superintendent Brenda Cassellius by a 97.5% margin.

BTU President Jessica Tang said the union wanted to look beyond those experiences in upcoming contract negotiations.

“I think it would be a mistake to hang on to bad feelings,” Tang said. “The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone. And if we are serious about moving forward, we have to start from scratch.”

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