Frequently Asked Questions
What is a slate in a union election?
The BTU elects 41 officers, who are collectively called the Executive Board. They run together as a “slate”. The officers’ job is to carry out the will of the 7,500 union members of teachers, paraprofessionals and related service providers of BCPSS. The executive board is made up of 20 officers elected by the PSRP chapter, 20 officers elected by the teacher chapter, and one president that is elected by both chapters, or the entire membership. Our slate consists of 20 teachers, 20 PSRPs, and our presidential candidate. Our current constitution doesn’t spell out specific duties for each position, but our campaign vision of the position includes Executive Board members who are responsible for a lot more outreach and organizing of BTU members and staff to build power and make a difference where it matters most: in the schools where we serve.
What does an active union look like?
An active union is open, inclusive, and fighting on behalf of its workers. It leads by example and exemplifies the same energy, service, and passion of Baltimore educators. We intend to amplify the power of the people through relationship building and providing educators the tools to organize their schools and communities. In schools, this will mean that every building will have a democratically elected union representative who holds monthly Union Chapter Committee (UCC) meetings. The UCC consists of 5 members elected by membership in each school, including the teacher representative and PSRP representative, to address school-wide issues with administration. The union representative is trained to take on school-based concerns and holds regular meetings for all school members.
What does Rank and File mean?
“Rank and File” refers to the ordinary members of an organization rather than the leaders.
We believe that educators should be proactively leading the efforts to advocate for, protect, and improve our profession and the communities where our students live. Public education serves the common good, and we, the rank and file of labor unions, do the important work of protecting it from exploitation and privatization. We understand that public education is a tool for liberation and essential to democracy.
What is the difference between a “Service” union and a “Rank and File” union?
The service model of unionism generally describes an approach whereby labour unions aim to satisfy members' demands for resolving grievances and securing benefits through methods other than direct grassroots-oriented pressure on employers.
Rank-and-File is a labor term that refers to the front line workers doing the bulk of the work. We put this term in our title because we believe that this is where the power in our union should lie. The essence of rank-and-file unionism is simple, the members run the union.
What is your position on school police and guns?
Members seem split over this issue. Some members feel guns do not belong in schools. Other members feel school police need to carry gun for safety reasons. Since we believe our union is supposed to be democratic, we plan to have conversations and forums with our members over issues such as this so we can can take informed, member-led stances. To this date, members of our caucuses are at the forefront of the debate and SHOW UP to the meetings and forums where this question is being discussed.
How does BMORE/CEDE feel about standardized testing in schools?
Our goal is to ensure the development and implementation of culturally responsive curriculum and ensure that evaluation of students is rooted in that curriculum. We understand that standardized testing is inherently biased and if our students, teachers, and families want to organize around the issue of overtesting, we would support those efforts. Since we believe unions should be democratic, we plan to have conversations and forums with our members over issues such as this so we can can take informed, member-led stances.
What is your position on teacher strikes?
We believe in the rights of teachers for democratic action. The current “strike wave” that is occurring in public school districts across the country is a reflection of grassroots organizing and democratic action. We stand in solidarity with striking teachers and we look forward to hearing from members about their thoughts on a strike action.
What are you going to do to protect my benefits?
The first item on the BMORE/CEDE platform is to ensure a comprehensive BTU contract and healthcare benefits for ALL members. The current contract is negotiated primarily by a team from AFT regional and national offices. This occurs behind closed doors with almost no input from members. Did you know that many districts have public contract negotiations for all members? We will work towards making contract negotiations more transparent and democratic. We also look forward to working with the seasoned and experienced negotiating teams from AFT that are committed to meeting the needs of our members.
What are you going to do to support teachers against retaliatory actions from administration?
We are committed to ensuring quicker responses to contract violations and aggressively pursuing the grievance process. That means going out and listening to teachers and becoming aware of schools and administrators who consistently violate the contract. It means realigning the BTU’s resources to become the strongest organization in Baltimore City fighting for the education of our students. We want to give more educators in the this city the concrete tools and inspiration to fight injustice, whether it’s a bullying principal, or an indifferent district bureaucrat tossing out more mandates that don’t help our kids.
What are you going to do to make schools safer? Cameras, locks, fire alarms? Threats to teachers, community members etc.?
Our contract requires the board shall maintain safe and secure schools as well as other preventive measure. Our contract also requires BCPSS to monitor schools in an effort to improve safety and security and if appropriate, allocate funds for school security. We will require the board meet these obligations in making our schools safe.
What makes you different from current leadership?
We believe that many of the BTU processes can be made open and transparent while still maintaining their authenticity. There is no reason for processes such as contract negotiations, budgetary meetings, and campaign initiatives to be held privately and secretly. We believe in holding district leaders to account for their failures at the school level and city wide. One of our biggest shifts is focusing on supporting, training and empowering educators to fight and win their own battles (and backing them up during the fight!), instead of believing that “the union” should take on the fights for educators.
What is your position on the increase in contractors and decline in PSRPs they are replacing at our schools?
Contractors are an attractive option for school administrators on inadequate budgets who want as many adults in their building as possible. We do not believe that PSRP positions should be eliminated in order to hire people who are paid less, with worse benefits, as a solution to chronic underfunding. Contractors often do great work and we want them in the union getting the full pay and contract benefits they deserve. The BTU should take an active stance to ensure that highly qualified PSRPs are not being replaced by contractors by analyzing school budgets and holding those schools to the BTU contract. We simultaneously will fight for the funding our schools deserve so that buildings are fully staffed with certified personnel.
What is your position on contractors replacing positions formerly held by teachers?
PSRPs are not the only union members whose positions are being replaced by contractors. Increasingly we are seeing attempts by principals to also get around certification requirements by eliminating certified teacher positions, particularly in the arts, only to see those positions reappear in the budget the following year but staffed by an uncertified contractor. It’s another example of the rules being bent by those in power to disadvantage workers at the expense of children. Oversight of school budgets by the BTU with a focus on schools where complaints have been received will bring much needed accountability to a system where teachers are being dumped for political organizing and cost cutting.
Where are the voting locations?
The voting locations are:
Northeast: NACA II:#349-2500 E. Northern Parkway
Northwest: Baltimore Teachers Union: 5800 Metro Drive
West: Edmondson/Westside High School: #400– 501 N. Athol Avenue
Central: Frederick Douglass High School: #450-2301 Gwynns Falls Pkwy
South: Arundel Elementary School: #164-2400 Round Road
Central: Dallas F. Nicholas, Sr. Elementary School: #39-201 E. 21st Street
There is currently no voting location in the Southeast, where a large number of teachers live and work. In fact, the largest number of our slate members work at Patterson, which is one of the Southeastern most schools. We have asked the elections committee to add a southeastern voting location to ease this burden on the teachers and PSRPs who live and work in the Southeast. If you would like to make this request of the elections committee, you can email Thomas Frasier, the committee chair at email@example.com.
What if I can’t make it to an election location on May 15th?
Absentee Ballots are available in a limited number of cases. The nominations and elections procedures handbook states that they are available because of “illness, absence from work because of vacation or employment tour of duty.” An absentee ballot must be requested by mail and the request must be sent by Friday May 3rd to:
Chapter Secretary, Election Committee
Baltimore Teachers Union
5800 Metro Drive
Baltimore MD 21215
If you need help requesting an absentee ballot, a number of candidates and volunteers have prepared letters and envelopes for this purpose. To get one, you can reach out to a candidate in person, or contact us through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or social media (BMORE Facebook, CEDE Facebook, The Union We Deserve Facebook and BMORE Twitter, The Union We Deserve Twitter), whatever is easiest for you!