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Boston Teachers Union Reaches Tentative Agreement

Working Mass - Thu, 2022-07-14 17:41

By Henry De Groot

*7/15 – Article has been updated to clarify the rate of proposed pay increases.

Tentative Agreement Announced at AFT Convention

This morning, Boston Teachers Union (BTU) President Jessica Tang announced that the union had reached a tentative agreement with the City of Boston. BTU members have been working for 11 months without contract.

A tentative agreement (TA) is a proposed contract reached between an employer and a union’s negotiating team. Tang’s proposed contract will go before BTU members for a ratification vote. If ratified, the contract will be voted on by the Boston School Committee.

Mayor Wu and Boston Teachers Union announce new contract agreement https://t.co/iNzVptc2im

— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) July 14, 2022

According to Tang, the agreement “makes strides toward establishing that inclusive and intentional approach that the frontline educators of the BTU have advocated for, along with taking other key steps to improve the conditions of our school buildings and to create more family-friendly work policies.”

Tang made the announcement at the 87th American Federation of Teachers (AFT) biennial convention, currently in progress at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

AFT president Randi Weingarten spoke in support of the proposed contract from the convention floor.

“I am proud and thrilled to have such an innovative and progressive agreement announced at the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers,” said Weingarten. “The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Reclaim our Future’ and this contract will help students, families, and educators do exactly that by taking huge steps forward to promote inclusion and create improved learning and working conditions throughout the Boston Public Schools.”

Great way to kick off the ⁦@AFTunion⁩ convention by hearing from the Mayor of Boston about the new contract for the Boston Teachers Union, ⁦@BTU66⁩, and the respect she has for educators. Congrats Jessica Tang and the BTU! #ReclaimOurFuture pic.twitter.com/f83j01sTCV

— Bob Morgenstern (@MorgyWV) July 14, 2022

The contract comes during a period of crisis for the Boston Public Schools district. Only two weeks ago the district appointed a new superintendent after Superintendent Brenda Casselius resigned midway through the year. BPS also narrowly avoided being placed in state receivership by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), agreeing to a strict improvement plan that begins this month.

Proposed Contract Details

In a press release, BTU described the proposed contract as taking “major steps forward on key district inclusion policies and practices.”

After countless hours of organizing, mobilizing and negotiating, we are pleased to share that as of this morning, BTU has reached a tentative agreement with the BPS School Committee and the City of Boston on our multi-year contract.https://t.co/BLuikGBKRQ

— BostonTeachersUnion (@BTU66) July 14, 2022

“Specifically, the parties agreed to key overhauls in the district’s approach to special education in order to better meet student and family needs, including targeted reductions in class sizes and taking a collaborative approach to assessing the needs of students who have individualized education plans (IEPs) and/or who are English Learners. Restructuring inclusion policy in the schools has been a shared priority of Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Teachers Union.”

Additional contract details laid out in the press release include:

Academic Supports – BPS is committed to ensuring that all students have the needed academic support within the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework, in which problem-solving and decision making is data driven and practiced across all levels of the educational system in order to support students.

Staff Training – The district will make additional funding commitments toward professional development around inclusion policies and best practices, including training for school leaders, special and general education teachers, related service providers, school psychologists and specialized training for coordinators of special education.

Planning Time and Input for Educators – Teacher planning time and preparation is critical and BPS will ensure that all teachers have adequate time to develop lesson plans collaboratively. Together, BPS and BTU will ensure that decisions regarding IEPs are made through a team process consistent with state and federal law.

Inclusive Education Liaison – For school years 2022-2023 to 2026-2027, the parties will fund an Inclusive Education Liaison who will play a critical role in implementing the shared vision of an inclusive district.

Paid Parental Leave – Expanding the City of Boston’s family leave policy to all education staff, including some positions within BPS that were previously excluded.

Green New Deal – Provides greater transparency regarding facilities work orders in BPS buildings to improve classroom conditions.

Housing Support – The agreement includes a commitment by the City to provide key housing support to unhoused families including a related pilot program.

Compensation Improvements – The agreement includes wage increases of 2.5% each year over three years with an addendum that will ultimately yield an additional 2% in overall wages over the life of the three-year pact.

A Test For BTU, Boston Leadership

If ratified, the contract will be a significant victory for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s new administration, as well as Tang’s “BTU for All” leadership team. The close relationship between Mayor Wu and President Tang is exemplified in the BTU’s press release, which quotes heavily from Wu. Mayor Wu also spoke in favor of the agreement at the AFT convention this morning. 

@MayorWu talking about being a mother of children in PUBLIC SCHOOLS in Boston @AFTunion convention.

She gave appreciation to the Boston teachers union and did not separate the teachers from their union.

Can you imagine a mayor like this, Chicago? I can. #1u #ReclaimOurFuture pic.twitter.com/x15HTayNCZ

— Michelle Gunderson (@MSGunderson) July 14, 2022

But just hours after the announcement, some BTU members were already expressing their frustration with the contract. According to one informed source, concerns include the proposed concessions to the district on most of the union’s initial demands, as well as BTU leadership’s behavior during the negotiation process.

Some members are worried that the new contract’s language on crucial issues like inclusion policy and class size is too weak to protect educators from the kind of working conditions that have caused massive teacher burnout over the last two years. On top of that, rank-and-file educators were prevented from observing key parts of the final bargaining session yesterday, as union leadership pushed heavily to “get the contract done.” 

Whether or not these concerns will affect the outcome of the ratification vote remains to be seen. But inflation will likely play a role. In a Facebook post, Tang clarified that raises in the contract, when including the “inclusion differential” “makes it actually 3, 3.5, 3 with one year retro so it’s actually 9.5% compounded over the next two years.” (*We originally reported that the contract offers a 2.5 percent annual raise). But just yesterday a report by the Labor Department showed that consumer inflation reached an annualized rate of 9.1 percent, a four-decade high. Wage increases that do not keep up with inflation represent a cut in workers’ real incomes. 

If the ratification process does develop into a contested vote, it will be a significant test for President Tang’s five-year leadership. Tang was unavailable to comment on this story.

Both national teachers’ unions – the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association – have been host to some of the most developed “rank-and-file” opposition movements, backed by socialists and progressives. Several opposition movements have won control of important teachers unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the largest union in the Commonwealth.

In the last few years, the Boston Teachers Union has largely avoided serious contests between union leadership and representatives of the national “rank-and-file” movement. But this tentative agreement could change that.

Henry De Groot is a member of Boston DSA and an editor of Working Mass.

Picture Credit: BTU Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/bostonteachersunion/posts/5505273146158917

John Bolton Admits To Planning Foreign Coups

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 15:32

John Bolton, former national security adviser, said in a recent interview that it was wrong to call Trump’s attempt to stay in power a coup, citing his own experience planning coup attempts in other countries. What do you think?

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Categories: The Onion

China Worried U.S. Outpacing Them On Poorly Functioning Low-Speed Trains

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 14:25

BEIJING—Addressing the National People’s Congress about the pressing need to drastically lower standards, President Xi Jinping worried Thursday that the United States was outpacing China on poorly functioning low-speed trains. “If something is not done quickly, China risks falling hopelessly behind America in the…

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The Onion’s Test Sweatshop Helps You Design Your Home Entertainment Center

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 14:21

Deciding which products will fulfill your basic needs or that gaping hole in your heart can be stressful. The Onion’s Test Sweatshop is here to help. Every product we recommend has been tested for over 50,000 hours by our army of indentured product testers. The Onion doesn’t make any money off of these

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Aides Concerned Low Poll Numbers Could Drive Biden To Do Something Drastically Popular

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 11:20

WASHINGTON—Worrying that a plummeting approval rating may be clouding the president’s judgment, White House aides reportedly expressed concern Thursday that low poll numbers could drive Joe Biden to do something drastically popular. “Frankly, we’re extremely worried that these low poll numbers could be leading the…

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Categories: The Onion

Review: The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, by Karl Kautsky

Eric Lee's Blog - Thu, 2022-07-14 10:33

I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, it hasn’t stood the test of time. Kautsky’s predictions from 1918 about what was going to happen next in Soviet Russia turned out to be wildly off the mark. To be fair, he could not have known about the new totalitarian society that was then being born. And yet it is strange that in a book so critical of Lenin and his party, there is no mention of the Red Terror, the creation of the feared Cheka or the labour camps that grew into the GULAG. Some of Kautsky’s criticisms of the Bolsheviks come, strangely, from the left — for example, he chastises them for encouraging peasants to seize the land and divvy it up among themselves, rather than turn it over to the state.

But on the other hand, when Kautsky wrote the book in the summer of 1918, just nine months after the Bolsheviks seized power, hardly any socialists outside of Russia had a bad thing to say about them. Even Rosa Luxemburg’s short book, though critical of the Bolsheviks, is extremely enthusiastic about their revolution. But in this book, Kautsky slowly, methodically explains the connection between socialism and democracy, completely rejecting dictatorship. He even does an effective job of explaining precisely what Karl Marx meant when he used the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat” on one or two occasions. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t mean banning socialist parties, shooting hostages, invading neighbouring countries and creating an entire economy based on slave labour.)

This edition of the book includes a long introduction by Kautsky’s grandson John, which is terrific — and not least because he quotes Max Shachtman, a personal favourite. John Kautsky calls his grandfather’s book “an important document in the history of Marxism and of the socialist movement and a milestone at the point of its path where communism and democratic socialism parted ways.” I would argue that it took another six years for that to happen, and that the suppression of the 1924 uprising in Georgia played a surprising role in that. But it was in this book that Kautsky first laid out the distinction between democracy and dictatorship that played such a critical role in the creation of the modern socialist movement.

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The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 09:00

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‘Bon Appétit’ Honors Journalist Killed In Field From Eating Too Much And Dying

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 07:15

NEW YORK—Celebrating the life of a man who courageously stuffed his mouth, Bon Appétit honored journalist Mark Vorak who was killed in the field Thursday from eating too much and dying. “It was a testament to his bravery and fearless appetite that he so valiantly gorged himself to the point where his stomach exploded…

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Increasingly Unhinged Eric Garcetti Covers Own Body With Metal Spikes To Prevent Homeless People From Sleeping On Him

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 07:00

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London Heathrow Tells Airlines To Stop Ticket Sales As It Caps Passengers

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 06:45

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Vacationing Woman’s Big Floppy Hat Plunges Nation Into Darkness

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 06:15

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DeWalt Ad Shows How Efficiently Power Saw Can Rip Through Human Rib Cage

The Onion - Thu, 2022-07-14 06:00

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‘Direct Action Revitalized Our Union’: New Canadian Postal Veep Has a Plan to Revive Militancy Coast to Coast

Steward's Corner - Thu, 2022-07-14 00:00

A letter carrier who helped organize a militant campaign of refusing forced overtime has won national office in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, with the goal of taking that direct action approach nationwide.

Roland Schmidt, president of the local in Edmonton, Alberta, won a national election in May to became CUPW’s third vice president in charge of internal and external organizing.

Categories: Labor Notes

‘Direct Action Revitalized Our Union’: New Canadian Postal Veep Has a Plan to Revive Militancy Coast to Coast

Magazine Stories - Thu, 2022-07-14 00:00

A letter carrier who helped organize a militant campaign of refusing forced overtime has won national office in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, with the goal of taking that direct action approach nationwide.

Roland Schmidt, president of the local in Edmonton, Alberta, won a national election in May to became CUPW’s third vice president in charge of internal and external organizing.

Categories: Labor Notes

Welcome, Courtney, Alejandra, Angela, and Caitlyn!

Steward's Corner - Wed, 2022-07-13 20:41

We’re excited to welcome a new member to the Labor Notes staff: Courtney Smith!

Courtney worked on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2020 as a Black constituency organizer. She has also worked with families who were victims of police brutality, and as an organizer with the Lecturers’ Employee Organization at the University of Michigan.

Categories: Labor Notes

Welcome, Courtney, Alejandra, Angela, and Caitlyn!

Magazine Stories - Wed, 2022-07-13 20:41

We’re excited to welcome a new member to the Labor Notes staff: Courtney Smith!

Courtney worked on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2020 as a Black constituency organizer. She has also worked with families who were victims of police brutality, and as an organizer with the Lecturers’ Employee Organization at the University of Michigan.

Categories: Labor Notes
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