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BTU Update #2: Negotiations Update



The Baltimore Teachers Union has been negotiating with district leadership throughout this summer for increased protections and clearer guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year. We have offered dozens of proposals, and frustratingly, the district has refused to guarantee many of the resources and protections educators and students need for this school year to be a success.

One important area of concern regards the recording of virtual classrooms. District leadership has shifted its position from the spring and will now require recordings of each virtual session, embracing a practice that will take place in other Maryland school districts. City Schools leadership refused all BTU proposals that would require notification and consent. After consulting with our legal counsel, the BTU recommends that all teachers comply with these protocols to avoid letters of insubordination or any other disciplinary action.

As with all negotiating matters, emails to School Board commissioners are an important part of securing commitments from the district. While we are still at the bargaining table on a wide range of issues, we have secured agreements on some topics, including:

  • Protection for teachers and PSRPs who do not volunteer to report to a school or worksite prior to the opening of schools for all students. Employees cannot be disciplined or suffer any ill effect on their annual evaluation for refusing to accept any voluntary work to be done in schools (such as those currently being offered to ESOL teachers). Importantly, this does not protect employees who are ordered to report for work into schools. The district refused all union proposals that would limit the district’s right to tell its employees where to work. If you are assigned to work at a school or worksite, you must either fulfill that assignment or be approved for the appropriate leave or accommodation.

  • The right to have one full day or two half days to visit schools, following all health protocols and safety procedures, to retrieve instructional materials, etc. This time may also be used to set up your classroom space at home in preparation of virtual instruction. This was previously shared in a stand alone email from the BTU. Since we lack guaranteed protections we continue to encourage members to avoid entering schools if at all possible, however we will protect every member’s rights in any work environment.

  • The right to a district issued laptop or Chromebook, upon request, for teachers and PSRPs to deliver instruction remotely. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming demand for laptops, some shipments are delayed. The district must make these available as soon as possible. School administrators have been instructed to gather all requests for laptops from staff. If the district fails to provide this requested technology, teachers and PSRPs cannot be disciplined for the inability to perform their work, nor shall employees suffer any ill effect on their annual evaluations, due to lacking this equipment.

  • Written agreement that teachers and PSRPs have children and family circumstances that may result in occasional, brief interruptions of instruction, and that any such interruptions will not be cause for discipline.

  • Written agreement that there shall be no loss of salary or benefits to any teacher or PSRP who is unable to complete remote work due to an event at the worker’s home that results in the loss of access to technology through computer failure, loss of power, or loss of internet through no fault of the worker. Any such event should be immediately reported to a supervisor to determine next steps.

  • Written agreement that the district will comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Initially, the BTU offered proposals for expanded leave options that would provide greater leave protections. The district refused such proposals, but the BTU still wanted to secure the district’s commitment to the FFCRA in writing since employees often struggle with the district’s failure to comply with various legal procedures. Having this commitment in writing means the BTU can issue a formal grievance if the district fails to comply with the procedures detailed in the FFCRA.

  • The district will follow guidance from the CDC and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) on ventilation and air exchanging rates. Schools will receive weekly walkthroughs, and any space that does not meet guidance standards will not be utilized and will have signage posted that indicates that the room should not be used for instruction. The BTU will also receive a list of all rooms that may be utilized for in-person instruction.

While we continue negotiations, we need your continued participation. You can do that in multiple ways. First, email the School Board. Next, join us on Thursday August 10, 2020 at 6:10 p.m in the BTU Private Facebook Group for LisTEN w/ President Brown. President Brown will answer your questions and dialogue with 10 union members via Facebook Live. Want to be one of the 10 or have questions for President Brown? Email Chris Bilal at or Tishea Lester Finally, join parents and parent-teachers on Saturday September 12, 2020 for a Parent Townhall Meeting that convenes from 11:00 a.m until 1:00 p.m. More information will be shared about this townhall in the coming week.

In solidarity,

President Brown

District Updates

  • BTU is urging all members not to use their personal devices, such as laptops and tablets for work and online instruction. If you are asked to make phone calls to students and family, please use Google Voice through your BCPS issued account, or apps that protect your privacy, such as Clever and Class Dojo. Using your personal devices puts student data and privacy at risk, and carries no legal protection to members whose devices may be compromised due to hacking. Members who have access to special education information (so in essence, anyone engaged in instruction or related services) are encouraged to request a device from their supervisor and not use their personal device in the meantime.

  • Similarly, BTU is also encouraging members to not work from school buildings in order to access high speed internet unless they do not have access to internet and are ordered to do so by their supervisor. We have received too many accounts from members of buildings where safety protocols are not being adequately implemented. Working from buildings puts your health at risk, as well as the health of the workers who are required to be there, and it send the message to the district that teachers and PSRPs support reopening buildings.


Members! The Baltimore Teachers Union would like to send every member a Back to School welcome package that includes a BTU shirt! Please update your contact information in this survey so we can mail it to your home address.

We are asking for your personal email address so we can send you sensitive information and materials from the Baltimore Teachers Union instead of sending it to your work email that is owned and can be viewed by BCPSS. Having accurate membership data makes us a more powerful union that is better able to communicate with, inform, and organize our members.
Thank you for your assistance and for all that you do! Together we are stronger! Get ready to wear your yellow shirt in solidarity!

Fill out the survey here!































Members! You can now see the visual notes from the monthly LisTEN Event with President Brown, as well as minutes from BTU Executive Board meetings. Instructions for securely accessing this information was sent to members personal email address, if we have one for you on file. For information about how to access the members only section of the website, please email


Based on the requests from new teachers from the SY2019-2020, the BTU New Teacher Steering Committee created a private page on the BTU website to host our Instructional Toolbox, a resource site with links to educator topics such as observations and how to document as a special educator. This page is password protected, and since this message goes to several members’ work email addresses, we cannot share it here. Please email from your personal email account for the password. Please peruse our experienced teachers’ videos and resources as well as start a discussion and ask questions about the topics. Since we just posted this private page, please let us know if you have any difficulties accessing the resources.


The Census is available online and does not take long to complete. When completing the census, you will include everyone living in your home on April 1, 2020.

Please click here to complete the Census today!



The BTU Private Facebook Group is almost at 3,000 members!!

Click here to join the discussion!