Amid staffing shortages, Education Support Professionals (ESPS) working in the Minneapolis School District (MPS) are calling for a picket during the picketing the Tuesday, October 9th board meeting. The picket is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.
The Union for ESPs, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT), asserts in a press statement that, "low wages and an all-around lack of respect are responsible for staffing shortages across the district."
The union furthermore stated that:
Support staff officially do almost all of the direct work with children in schools not done by teachers and other teacher-specialists, including individual and small-group instruction, assisting teachers with classroom management, meeting individualized needs in special education settings, running the after-school programs in the district, and working as liaisons between schools, children, and their families. By allowing positions to go unfilled, the district is undermining students’ access to a quality education.
MPS and MFT have been in negotiations since April 2018, and the next negotiation session is Thursday, October 11th.The union has four bargaining demands:
1. Eliminate the proposed step freeze for workers for their annual pay raise that is currently on the table. The district incentivizes workers to take jobs in the district by showing them and advertising the pay scale, and so it’s disingenuous for the district to hold the annual wage increases hostage in contract negotiations. A step freeze hasn’t been implemented since 2006.
2. Equal pay for equal work for Parent Liaisons and Family Liaisons that do the same work but for $2/hour differences in wages. MPS created this disparity in bypassing the Collective Bargaining Agreement by unilaterally creating the Parent Liaison position at a lower wage.
3. Take all break concessions off the table for Minneapolis Kids Child Care Assistants. The district is insisting that Mpls Kids workers who work split shifts in the mornings and afternoons give up their paid breaks.
4. Increase the across the board pay raise of 1% to at least keep up with inflation, which was most recently
marked at 2.7%. In 2001, Special Education Assistants started at $14.80/hour, and in 2018 they start at $17.15/hour. When the 2001 starting wage is adjusted for inflation, it would be $21.02/hour, which means that SEA wages have decreased 18% over the last 17 years.