Amid Stalled Contract Talks, Anoka-Hennepin Teachers Plan Walkouts
Anoka-Hennepin Schools and its teachers union started contract mediation talks last Wednesday.
After hours of negotiations, they still don’t have an agreement.
Educators with Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota (AHEM), the union that represents teachers in Anoka-Hennepin Schools, have been working without a contract since July.
The district and union spent months negotiating before asking mediators to step in.
According to a spokesperson for Anoka-Hennepin Schools, the district negotiation team and union leadership agreed to release the following statement after mediation talks wrapped up on Wednesday:
“The District and AHEM negotiation teams met for 11 hours in mediation on January 3rd. We had meaningful conversations and gained understanding of each side’s position. At this time, both the union and the district still have considerable work to do to reach a settlement. Mediation will resume on January 19.”
Meanwhile, union president Val Holthus said that teachers need an increase to salary and benefits.
She said the negotiation process has been “very slow.”
“There was a little movement on salary and benefits, but we have a lot more work to do,” Holthus said.
Likewise, she said early childhood and adult basic education teachers need to have their salary and benefits schedules raised to be equal with other licensed teachers in the district.
The union is also asking additional support for special education teachers and to give teachers a voice in determining class sizes.
Teachers with the union are rallying outside the Monday, Jan. 8 Anoka-Hennepin School Board meeting in a show of unity.
This week, teachers are planning “work to rule” walkouts. That is, teachers are only planning to work their contracted hours, and not additional time before and after class.
“I think that withholding your work is probably the most effective way to accomplish a settlement,” Holthus said. “That is the last thing that teachers want. They do not want to have to go on strike, but they will do what we have to do in order to settle our contract.”
Teachers frequently “donate” hours outside of their contracted duty day, Holthus said.
“It’s to the point where [the school district] expects it,” Holthus said. “So when teachers don’t do that, it looks as though we’re not doing job and we’re not serving our students the way we’re supposed to. But it’s a problem, I think, that has grown over time. Teachers want to have their students be successful … but it gets to the point where enough is enough. And it cuts into your family time.”