No Pay Cuts Yet for Absentee Teachers

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday August 04, 2006

Berkeley Unified School District teachers who received letters informing them that their salaries would be cut for skipping classes May 1, the day of immigrant rights rallies nationwide, received their paychecks for the month of July on Monday. 

Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) Vice President Cathy Campbell told the Daily Planet that that there have been no reports so far of any kind of paycuts from the teachers. “We would have definitely heard from the teachers if their salary had been deducted,” she said. 

BFT President Barry Fike said that at a recent meeting with BUSD superintendent Michele Lawrence, he had made it very clear that BFT would file a grievance if the teachers’ pays were docked. “We do not see any kind of justification for deducting anybody’s pay. Our interpretation is this particular kind of action qualifies as personal leave and therefore it does not violate their contract.” 

Fike added that it remained unclear what kind of action the district was going to take regarding this issue. “We have received a list from BUSD of all the teachers who were absent from school on May 1 and have sent each of them a letter saying that BFT would represent them in case their pay gets deducted. At this point we can say that it was not just teachers with Latino last names who got letters threatening them that their pay would be cut. Caucasian teachers were also targeted. Also, from the content of the letters it looks like they were circulated from a central source, although BUSD denies this,” Fike said. 

BUSD spokesperson Mark Coplan told the Planet that the school district is still discussing the matter with the unions and no action has been taken with respect to deducting pay from the teachers as of yet.