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Tentative Deal Gives Teachers A One Percent Pay Increase

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday May 21, 2009 - 09:49:00 AM

Berkeley teachers may have come to terms with the school district over their 2008-09 and 2009-10 contracts.  

After months of deliberation with Berkeley Unified School District officials, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) struck a tentative deal Wednes-day, May 13, which gives teachers a 1 percent pay increase for the current academic year, but leaves them without any raise for 2009-10.  

The contract will maintain current class sizes, improve maternity leave, and support National Board Certification, professional development for substitute teachers, and parent-teacher conferences in pre-school.  

Berkeley Federation of Teachers President Cathy Campbell said that while she was relieved that both parties had reached an agreement, teachers will “continue to bear the entire burden of the increase in health benefit programs.”  

District Superintendent Bill Huyett declined to comment on the agreement as it has not yet been approved by the union and the Berkeley Board of Education.  

BFT members will begin voting on the contract May 21.  

“The district’s agreement represents some significant gains for teachers’ living and working conditions,” Campbell said. “It has not been ratified yet, but it represents a significant gain. It is a realistic contract and reflects the times we live in.”  

Campbell said the fact that the agreement was reached more quickly than in the last round of negotiations, when the services of a state mediator were required, demonstrates improvement in labor relations with the school district.  

“Hopefully these improvements will lay the groundwork for successful future negotiations,” she said.  

Campbell said the contract is short-term and that union representatives would be negotiating a “successor agreement” for 2010-11 sometime around March of next year.  

Campbell said union members were disappointed that none of the contracts continued the revenue-sharing formula, which increases teacher salaries in accordance with the district’s revenue. She said the arrangement had been successful in the past.  

“A revenue-sharing formula is excellent for labor relations,” she said, but the union understood such an arrangement was not possible in the current economic climate. “We hope it will return in the next contract.”