Union and district leaders to regroup, resell BTU contract
The proposed Baltimore Teachers Union contract failed to garner the majority support from the 2,600 educators who voted this week on whether to send it to ratification. Union and district officials said they are confident that once they give teachers more time to digest the contract's radical changes, it will pass with flying colors.
Our editorial board weighed in, agreeing with BTU President Marietta English's take that the defeat of the contract, which educators voted on Wednesday and Thursday, was just a "bump in the road."
However, details were murky Friday about how union and district leaders will address the hundreds of teachers who said they not only needed more than two weeks to comprehend the contact, but more specifics on how its initiatives would be implemented and paid for.
In a follow-up story about the defeat, schools CEO Andres Alonso provided some insight into how much more information teachers may get in the coming weeks. Alonso has declined to speak publicly about the contract since it was presented two weeks ago, saying he did not want to risk violating labor laws by influencing the vote. Union officials said they are looking to hold another vote by the end of the month.
In a Friday morning press conference, Alonso seemed to believe that a combination of more time, more communication and motivating more teachers to vote will lead to victory. He asserted that any teacher who was voting against the contract solely because it did not contain specifics on how teachers would be evaluated is respectfully "shortsighted," and those educators probably wouldn't vote for it anyway.
Union officials agreed, but added that they will spend more time communicating the contract and will take members' suggestions back to the negotiating table for some "tweaks."
I caught up with English at the Quest teacher's conference Friday morning, where she said she planned to use the venue to engage about 1,000 teachers in an impromptu town-hall meeting to discuss the contract. She said she was feeling "positive," about moving forward and ensuring that members' concerns were addressed before the next round of voting.
I'm assuming a stronger, more concrete plan on how to garner support for the agreement will emerge as the two teams go back to drawing board next week.
But, teachers I spoke with Friday said loud and clear that if the district presents the same contract, they should expect the same result.
What do you think it will take to get union members to vote for this contract?