Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Teachers to Get Pay Raise After Yearlong Battle

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group

BERKELEY -- The school district's 800 teachers have a tentative agreement for a retroactive 2.5 percent raise and a 2.5 percent bonus after going a year without a contract. 

"That comes out to a 5 percent raise for the year overall, and that's a great figure," said Cathy Campbell, president of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers. "We're very pleased, because earlier they had come to us with an offer that was quite a bit lower." 

The contract is retroactive to July 1, 2012, and ends June 30. Negotiations for the next contract begin in October. 

Teachers have been packing school board meetings over the last six months to ask directors for a raise, complaining their salaries are not keeping up with health care costs and the cost of living in the Bay Area. In the current contract teachers got no help with increasing health care costs. 

During negotiations in February, teachers asked for a 5 percent raise but were turned down. The district countered with an offer of no raise at all and a 1 percent raise in the next contract. 

Neither side would say what changed between February and the new tentative agreement announced Thursday night. 

Berkeley teachers' pay ranges from about $39,000 a year for a first year teacher to $80,000 for a teacher with a master's degree and 23 years or more of experience. 

In their public campaign to get a new contract, teachers often cited the district's $6 million budget surplus as a good way to fund raises. 

In a prepared statement, school board President Karen Hemphill said the raise reflects "better economic times" and shows "appreciation for the work our teachers do every day." 

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.

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