Bristol Federation of Teachers

Contact us at bft1464@gmail.com

More Teachers Reinstated — June 20, 2017

More Teachers Reinstated

On Tuesday, 12 more teachers (mostly elementary) had their positions reinstated. That leaves 13 elementary teachers on the recall list.

Also, 7 tenured elementary teachers have had their sections cut due to enrollment, and will go into “the pool,” which is expected to be run very shortly. Once those teachers have been placed in new positions, any additional vacant positions that need to be filled will be done by seniority using teachers from the recall list.

Teacher Layoffs: An Update — June 17, 2017

Teacher Layoffs: An Update

On Friday, 90 teachers in Bristol who had gotten non-renewal letters in May were updated on their status. 65 teacher received a letter telling them they were being recalled and that their position for the 2017-18 school year was secure. Another 25 teachers, mostly elementary, received letters telling them that their position had not been reinstated yet, essentially saying that their position would be in limbo until the state passes a budget.

Any additional recall information over the summer months will be immediately updated on this site.

Concerns or questions should be directed to the BFT via Groupwise or bft1464@gmail.com

Taxing Teacher Pensions — June 11, 2017

Taxing Teacher Pensions

RETIRED TEACHER TAX EXCLUSION IN JEOPARDY
Contact your Legislators and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz to remind them:
* Teacher pension skyrocketing costs are notthe fault of retired teachers. The State underfunded the teacher pension for more than 70 years.
* Retired teachers have been assured again and again that the legislature would keep their promise. To renege on the tax exclusion law for retired teachers is a broken promise to 36,000 retired teachers who have contributed to their pensions all their working years and depended upon their pension during their retired years.
* The tax exclusion law was passed four years ago for fairness. Since teachers pay into their retirement system the same as others pay into Social Security, the law begins to address an unequal taxation of teacher pensions. The tax exclusion law was also passed for sound economic reasons as 26% of retired teachers leave the state retiring to states that do not tax pensions. This is a money drain on Connecticut.
Please contact your Legislators in Hartford and urge them to keep their promise on the tax exclusion. (Your message should not go to your US Congressmen)
You can contact your Legislator by going to ARTCT.org – Click on “who should I call” .
Joe Aresimowicz is the Speaker of the House and it has been reported that he thinks that Teachers Retirement Income should be on the table of budget negotiations.  Please call or e-mail his office and express your concerns.
Legislative Office Building, Room 4105
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
860-240-8500/ 800-842-8267
Legislative Attacks — June 7, 2017

Legislative Attacks

Rights to negotiate a better future are at risk for all working people under proposals being pushed in the final hours of the Connecticut General Assembly’s regular session. To stop this shameless attack on our union members and everyone who depends on us, the State Capitol needs to hear from us — and now.
Politicians are exploiting the process to revive bills that died earlier in the legislative session taking aim at our members and everyone employed by the state, municipalities and school districts. But when politicians silence any one of our voices, they weaken our collective strength.
Since January, our members have led the labor movement’s defense of collective bargaining and the gains made for working families over decades. Only by working together can we stop special interest-backed politicians’ from turning back the clock on progress and gutting our members’ pay, pensions and healthcare.
More to come, and in solidarity,
Ed Leavy
Secretary-Treasurer, AFT Connecticut
Jean Morningstar
First Vice President, AFT Connecticut
John Brady, RN
Executive Vice President, AFT Connecticut
 
Jan Hochadel

President, AFT Connecticut

P.S. Click here for press reporting on lawmakers’ schemes to push last-minute, anti-union proposals

BFT Recommit Cards — June 6, 2017

BFT Recommit Cards

When you were hired to work in the Bristol Public Schools, among the many documents you were asked to sign was a union membership card. For some of you that was just a few months ago. For other, it was decades. These cards were then placed in your file at Central Office, where they remain. However, this week, the BFT (at the urging of our parent organization AFT) is asking all teachers to sign “Recommit Cards.” These cards would essentially replace the originals and would then remain in the possession of the BFT. There are several reasons for undertaking this effort. Firstly, the original cards would need to be located in each personnel file and removed. That creates a burden for HR. Second, its very possible that over many years some of these have been lost or damaged. Third, the cards changed format over the decades, and may contain some outdated terms or language. Lastly, we are trying to protect the union from several anticipated challenges to collective bargaining. Hence, we are asking all teachers to sign and return the “Recommit Cards” this Wednesday, June 7 following the last staff meeting of the year.

Many members view their union like a soda machine—members put in their money expecting the product they want to fall at their feet. Sometimes they don’t get what they want from the soda machine, and they end up kicking it because they feel powerless. Buying an ice-cold soda also doesn’t require them to do much; they simply put the money in the machine and expect it to deliver.

A more accurate analogy of how a union works though, would be a gym membership. Gym members pay a monthly fee, but results are only possible if they actually get out of bed, hit the gym and exercise. Walking on the treadmill and lifting weights in the midst of a community of fellow fitness-seekers helps with motivation. Together, everyone gets to celebrate the results they’ve accomplished.

But what if membership dues to the gym were optional, yet use of the gym was open to everyone? How long would people willingly pay toward maintaining the facilities, and how long would it be able to function with overuse, abuse, and little resources to maintain it?

That is the danger unions face as a number of court cases, solicited and funded by anti-labor groups, make their way to the Supreme Court.

The crux of each case centers on the union’s right to charge what is referred to as an “agency fee.” No public employee can be forced to join a union. However, since all the employees (union member and non-union member) reap the benefits of the wages, benefits, and contract protections attained through the union’s collective bargaining efforts, those individuals that don’t sign up as union members must pay an “agency fee.” That is an amount (often more than 90%) of the full union membership, minus political activity like campaign contributions and lobbying (usually less than 10%). The cases making their way up toward the Supreme Court argue that there is no line between political and non-political for public employees and that “agency fees” are unconstitutional.

This scenario was expected to reach its apex last year, with the Friedrichs case, which was predicted to end with a 5-4 decision against the union position. However, the death of Justice Scalia resulted in a split 4-4 decision. Now, this year we have the Janus case, essentially a replay of the Friedrich scenario. If it goes against unions, and teachers opt out of being dues paying union members, their won’t be a union left to give a voice to teachers or fight for wages and benefits. If you think things are bad now, imagine what it will be like without the union.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has tracked data for the past 17 years on wages of union and non-union employees, and consistently found those (of the same profession) who belonged to a union earned 27% more than non-union workers. Those funding the anti-union effort want to stifle the voice of public employees, and reduce salary and benefit costs, essentially balancing state and local budgets on the backs of employees. Your back.

Of the 640 teachers in Bristol, there are only 6 who are agency fee. One downside for these non-members is that they are not entitled to legal representation from the union when facing termination, when being investigated by DCF, or in Worker’s Comp cases. They are not eligible to hold office in the union, or vote in elections or ratify contracts. To me, that is a lonely road to walk. So while I appreciate and respect differing views, in the end the advantages of being in the union far outweigh the disadvantages. Hopefully you’ll agree and we can all fight the battle ahead together (and the one after that, and the one after that…).

 

Fraternally,

David Hayes

BFT President

 

P.S. Union reps will have the cards in their possession Tuesday morning. If you anticipate being absent Wednesday afternoon, please talk with a union rep and they can help you sign up. For those unexpectedly absent Wednesday, or on long term leave, we will be in touch soon.

Legislative Session Update — June 4, 2017

Legislative Session Update

Amendments to destroy collective bargaining rights have started popping up in various bills. Please join us at the State Capitol in Hartford after work from 5:00pm – 9:00pm (or later) on Monday, June 5th thru Wednesday, June 7th. Wear your union blue t-shirts. We need legislators to know we are watching them and we vote!

 Please RSVP if you are available to make it even if it’s for only an hour!!  Thank you.

 Teri Merisotis

Legislative Advocate

AFT CONNECTICUT

35 Marshall Rd.

Rocky Hill, CT 06067

860-257-9782 work

Annual Budget Meeting — June 2, 2017
BOE Budget Finalized — June 1, 2017
Reminder – BFT Happy Hour this Friday — May 30, 2017

Reminder – BFT Happy Hour this Friday

With the budget vote likely to result in dire cuts, it won’t be very “happy,” but this occasion was scheduled months ago and will proceed. It will be a great opportunity to meet friends and colleagues, and to strategize as we plan ahead.

Food and drinks are free, and all current teachers, as well as student teachers and interns are welcome.

The event will happen Friday at Nuchies from 2:30-5:30 PM.

Bristol Budget – Final Vote this Week —

Bristol Budget – Final Vote this Week

This week the combined City Council and Board of Finance (AKA the Joint Board) will have the final vote to set the city and school budget for 2017-18. The vote will occur in the City Council chambers at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, May 31. Two weeks ago, the Board of Finance (chaired by Cheryl Thieault, who is running for City Council in November) voted to recommended a school budget in crease of 3%, well below the 7% that would be needed to continue current staffing and programs.