Education members spell out priorities at contract forum

Publish Date
MDE April 10 Bargaining Forum

More than 80 Local 1001 members attended a forum at the Minnesota Dept. of Education (MDE) in support of the department’s supplemental bargaining priorities.

“I want to encourage folks to keep participating and to keep pushing on us to be more inclusive in the state more broadly. We want to create bargaining positions that are reflective of what everyone who works here needs – it is really about One MDE,” said Sally Reynolds, Alternative and Extended Learning Specialist, and Education’s Meet and Confer Chair

Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker briefly addressed the group and told employees that she is looking forward to meeting again with the supplemental bargaining team and added, “I am humbled to work alongside you and to represent this work we do on behalf of all of our students here in Minnesota.”

Earlier in the day, the commissioner met with MAPE’s supplemental bargaining team. “It was a positive meeting and we’re very hopeful we’ll be able to reach agreement on each of our priorities. We’ve started to share our proposal language with the commissioner and the executive team and are beginning to work together to clarify language,” Michael Diedrich, ESEA Policy Specialist and Education’s Meet and Confer Vice Chair, said.   

MDE’s bargaining priorities include diversity and inclusion in recruitment, hiring and retention and creation of a One MDE Council; consistency in flex time and tele-work across departments; consistent performance management; and building a professional development system for employees.  

MDE April 10 Bargaining Forum

Management Analyst, Wai Wong-Lai noted that many children were struggling academically and spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion in closing the achievement gap. “We must make sure students have people in their lives who look like them. We would like to see every level of the agency represent how Minnesota looks. All we’re asking for is a fair chance for representation so all voices can be heard. Together, we are the face of MDE and in the process will better serve Minnesota students and families.”    

Library Services and Technology Act Grant Coordinator Leah Larson noted “I want to first acknowledge today that we are on land owned by the indigenous tribes of Minnesota, Ojibwe and Dakota people.  I come to this work as an ally. I come to this work as a white woman, with Mexican and Norwegian heritage. As a spouse of an immigrant and as a mother of a Latino son. I think that the fact that we framed this conversation from the lens of racial equity first is essential.”

Several members spoke about the need to implement flexible work options across all departments. Achievement and Integration Specialist Pam Booker recalled that when she began in the Office of Equity and Opportunity four years ago, only one person tele-commuted, and no one else did after he retired. “I had a young millennial come and join our division about two years ago, and that was her fight. She really wanted to be able to tele-work. And it took her quite a long time to be able to do that. Unfortunately, she did it for a few weeks and then left us. So, I took on the charge, and four years later, after a leadership change in my division, I am able to tele-work from home on Fridays,” Booker said.

“The greatest feeling in the world was having someone tell me ‘you’re a professional and I trust you to get the work done whether you’re here or whether you’re at home,’” Booker added.

Teacher Effectiveness Specialist Angela Mansfield addressed the need for consistent management practices, “I’m lucky to be in a division where we get feedback all the time. Where we have an open door between ourselves and our supervisors, where we have a designated process for appraisal every year.”

Mansfield said that this process needed to be consistent across the agency “so we know where we’re going with an eye on further growth and opportunities.”

Kindergarten Entry Profile Coordinator Jon Vaupel focused on the importance of professional development noting, “We want professional development that is executed consistently across the division or across the entire agency. It should not matter who you know or who your supervisor is as far as what opportunities are available to you and what you choose to pursue,”

Education Specialist Beth Barsness said she enjoyed attending the forum, “I liked hearing all of the member stories. People were from divisions I don’t see day-to-day, and I could relate to their stories.”

The supplemental bargaining team is expected to meet at least twice again more before the end of May.

Watch a video of the stories shared at https://youtu.be/Sjm43iy93nA or below.