Press

Hourly school workers speak out ahead of first hearing for bill ensuring unemployment insurance 

Hourly school employees were joined by elected officials Monday morning ahead of the first committee hearing for HF1054, a bill that updates state law so hourly school employees would be eligible for unemployment insurance. Currently tens of thousands of dedicated school staff – the paraprofessionals, ESPs, bus drivers, food service workers and more who are the backbone of our schools – have no access to unemployment like most other workers in Minnesota, leaving them without pay during summer months.

Screen Shot 2021-03-03 at 10.43.57 AMOne of the speakers, was Teresa Jakubowski, a school bus for District 196 Rosemount and member of SEIU Local 284, shared why this legislation would be so important.

“It took the pandemic to raise the awareness that the current unemployment legislation discriminates against hourly paid school employees. This bill would end that discrimination that began almost 60 years ago. The people taking care of your children – bus drivers, paras, chaperones, cafeteria workers, janitors, hall monitors, secretaries – we all need the safety net of unemployment insurance,” said Jakubowski. “The next time you pass a parked school bus with a sign on it saying “hiring bus drivers,” ask yourself why are they always hiring? The answer: even though we are considered full time employees with benefits, it is a hard way to make a living. We, like everyone else, need and deserve access to unemployment and underemployment insurance benefits. We are speaking out today because we can literally no longer endure not having access to unemployment insurance in the summer.”

 Also speaking was Tracy Trouten, information technology education support professional in Osseo Area Schools and member of Education Minnesota, who shared the challenges faced by hourly school workers across Minnesota.

“I already live paycheck to paycheck. But this past year was harder than ever. I had a summer position lined up with the school district, but It was eliminated. Most people would qualify for unemployment insurance in that situation. But I was denied because state law doesn’t allow hourly school workers to collect unemployment insurance in the summer months,” said Trouten. “The financial hit from being unemployed part of the summer impacted me for months. I didn’t have money for Christmas because I was still trying to catch up. Hourly school workers like myself shouldn’t have to worry every summer about having access to employment.”

Rachel Godnai, a paraprofessional with developmental and cognitively delayed students who is a member of AFSCME Council 65 who lives in Cloquet, shared the challenges she has faced.

“When Covid-19 shut down Minnesota schools, it shut down two of my three jobs. I applied for Covid-19 Unemployment because, as I understood it, I should qualify since I lost two of my jobs as a direct result of Covid-19. I was sent denial letters, but not given a reason why. Had my second and third jobs been with Walmart and Target I would have qualified for unemployment when they were cut, including the Covid-19 benefits,” said Godnai. “The loss of that income continues to put more stress on myself and my family during an already stressful time. I love the work I do. However, we must make it a little more stable and secure if we want people like me to be able to stay in these jobs year after year.”

Multiple elected officials, including Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, Rep. Mohamud Noor and lead author Rep. Emma Greenman joined the press conference to show their support.

“The hardworking Minnesotans who transport, feed, educate, and care for our students deserve the same safety net as other workers,” said Rep. Greenman (DFL – Minneapolis), the author of the legislation. “Ending the exclusion of hourly school workers from the unemployment insurance program will help tens of thousands of hourly school employees, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck and are disproportionately women and people of color. This is a simple policy change to ensure they have what they need to provide for their families and can continue to do amazing work for our kids.”

Also speaking was Brian Aldes, Teamsters Local 320 Secretary Treasurer and Principal Officer, who spoke about the impact on the nearly 1200 school employees Teamsters Local 320 represents across Minnesota.

“This bill is a direct response to arbitrary layoffs, the continued threat of layoffs, and a significant difficulty to find summer jobs that our members have faced since the beginning of the Pandemic,” said Aldes. “Furthermore, Minnesota is facing a severe bus driver shortage and we don’t know what things will look like this summer for overcoming the Pandemic. We must protect our vital education infrastructure during academic and seasonal layoffs to ensure school support staff have the economic stability they deserve.”

The bill was included as part of the Unemployment Insurance Omnibus bill following today’s committee hearing and will next be heard in the Ways and Means Committee.

###

Leave a comment

Bill to remove schools from governor’s powers puts students, educators and communities at risk

Statement from SEIU Local 284, Education Minnesota & Teamsters Local 320

Feb. 18, 2021 – As Senate GOP leaders continue their push to roll back protections on schools, educators and parents speak out about how we all want the same thing – for Minnesota students to be safe and learning in-person with their peers.

120658404_10158803053544675_6371995032952024704_oFollowing the Senate passing SF2 off the floor today, Education MinnesotaSEIU Local 284 and Teamsters Local 320, on behalf of the tens of thousands of educators and school workers we represent and the 1 million students we serve, voiced their strong opposition to SF2. The bill would remove any peacetime emergency restrictions on public schools.

Schools are far too important to be excluded from the governor’s powers, which cover every other sector in our state,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “During a public health crisis, we need fast decisionmaking, based on advice from state health officials, to keep our communities safe.

“During these unprecedented times, Minnesotans expect decisive action, and we cannot let our guard down now. Teamsters Local 320 opposes Senate File 2 because we need strong executive leadership to protect students, teachers and staff in an ever-changing environment,” said Brian Aldessecretary treasurer, Teamsters Local 320.

Getting students into school buildings – and keeping those buildings open – has always been a priority. About 86 percent of school districts are already offering some sort of in-person learning to students. But many of the remaining districts are struggling to meet the high standards for safe operation without additional resources and staff. 

“School staff have been working so hard over the last year through incredibly challenging situations. But for all staff and students to be safe and back in school, we need help and support from our elected officials,” said Kelly Gibbons, executive director of SEIU Local 284, a union of 9,000 school employees from across Minnesota. “Whether it is driving kids to school, feeding lunch, helping in classrooms or fixing a leaky ceiling, our work is the foundation of making our public schools function. School employees want to work, keep their families afloat, and support the kids and their communities during these trying times. We need protections to do that safely.”

If Senate Republicans are serious about controlling the spread of the virus and ensuring there will be safe, in-person learning available for all Minnesota students, we encourage the senators to embrace the latest guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding layers of mitigation.

For starters, Minnesota should put several of the governor’s executive orders into law. This includes protecting workers from unsafe working conditions and retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions and mandating all students in grades K-12 wear a face covering while in school buildings and riding in school transportation vehicles.  

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans are more focused on political stunts than leadership. If they did care about keeping schools open safely, they wouldn’t be rolling back the rules and protections we have in place,” Specht said. “Instead, they would be talking about providing the mental health and academic resources students need to catch up after the pandemic year.”

Leave a comment

Local 284 Member Kristi Scott Wins Stearns County Health & Safety Award!

Kristi Scott

Kristi Scott, the first cook at McKinley-ALC school in the St. Cloud (742) School District, was recently awarded this years Health Safety Award from Stearns County. The award is based off of a five-year performance review, and it means your health inspection reports have to show no infractions during that time. Congratulations to Kristi and a big thank you to all SEIU Local 284 members who do such amazing work for our students and our community.

You can read more about Kristi and her team’s award on the District’s website HERE.

Leave a comment

Adjunct Faculty at Augsburg College Vote to Join SEIU Local 284 in Push to Raise Standards

Second faculty union win in as many months marks growing movement as Augsburg College adjuncts join Hamline, MCAD, U of M in fight to improve higher education

MINNEAPOLIS – Over 200 adjunct faculty at Augsburg College formed a faculty union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 in balloting that ended Monday. Instructors formed a union for a stronger voice to improve teaching conditions and advocate on behalf of students.

“I voted yes to form an adjunct faculty union at Augsburg because I love teaching here, but I pay more in child care than I make from teaching and it is unsustainable,” said Jessica Ennis, an Adjunct Instructor in Physics at Augsburg College. “We need to work together as adjunct faculty, tenure-line faculty, and administrators to improve our teaching conditions and student’s learning conditions.”

Ballots were mailed out to Augsburg adjunct faculty by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Tuesday, November 8 and were counted Tuesday afternoon. With a vote count of 76 to 63, 54% percent voted in favor of forming a union.

“I deeply value my relationship with Augsburg College and I am honored to serve my students and our community,” said Cory Knudtson, an Adjunct Instructor in Education. “I believe many adjuncts wanted to have a collective voice within the school to create an environment where we can best meet our students’ needs.”

Augsburg faculty join over 13,000 higher education instructors across the country who have formed unions with SEIU in the last three years to address the growing crisis in the higher education faculty profession, including adjunct faculty at Hamline University in Saint Paul and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) in Minneapolis.

Steve Boland, an Adjunct Faculty member at Hamline University, expressed the support of SEIU Local 284 members: “We are excited to hear that adjunct faculty at Augsburg have voted to join our union. We made major improvements at Hamline in our first union contract, so I am excited to think about what we can accomplish together with faculty at other colleges across the Twin Cities.”

Adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) voted to join SEIU Local 284 last month, and Hamline University won their first union contract earlier this year. Tenure-track and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus filed for a union election in January and await their election to be ordered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services in September.

-30-

MN Academics United is an affiliate of SEIU Local 284. Faculty at Twin Cities colleges and universities are coming together to form unions for a stronger voice in shaping our institutions’ direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education in Minnesota.

Leave a comment

Faculty at Minneapolis College of Art and Design Vote Overwhelmingly to Join SEIU Local 284 as Augsburg College Faculty File for Union Election

Twin Cities Faculty Union Movement Grows as Two Minneapolis Colleges Join Hamline, U of M in Fight to Improve Higher Ed

MINNEAPOLIS – Over 100 part-time and full-time faculty from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) voted overwhelmingly to form a faculty union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 in balloting that ended yesterday, just days after adjunct faculty at Augsburg College filed for their own union election. Instructors at both institutions are forming unions for a stronger voice to improve teaching conditions and advocate on behalf of students.

“I am thrilled to see such a resounding vote for forming our union amongst both part-time and full-time faculty,” said Daniel Dean, an Adjunct in Media at MCAD. “Now, we can work together towards changes that will improve our working conditions as well as our students’ experience. As part-time adjunct faculty, we need to know that we will be able to be there for our students when they need us.”

“I want to form an adjunct faculty union at Augsburg because I love teaching here – so much so that I am teaching this semester at a financial loss, as I did over the summer,” said Jessica Ennis, an Adjunct Instructor in Physics at Augsburg College. “I have two small children, and I pay more in child care than I make from teaching. This is not sustainable in the long term for my family and me, for my students, or for the Augsburg administration.”

Ballots were mailed out to MCAD faculty two weeks ago by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and were counted this afternoon for separate bargaining units of part-time adjunct faculty and ranked full-time faculty. With a vote count of 43 to 20 amongst part-time faculty and 16 to 13 amongst full-time faculty, 64% percent voted in favor of forming a union. MCAD faculty hope to begin bargaining their first contract before the end of the year. No election timeline has yet been set for Augsburg, but faculty requested an election by mail ballot in November.

MCAD faculty join over 13,000 higher education instructors across the country who have formed unions with SEIU in the last three years to address the growing crisis in the higher education faculty profession, including adjunct faculty at Hamline University in Saint Paul.

Steve Boland, an Adjunct Faculty member at Hamline University, expressed the support of SEIU Local 284 members: “We are excited to hear that part-time and full-time faculty at MCAD have voted to join our union and that adjuncts at Augsburg will have the same opportunity. We made major improvements at Hamline in our first union contract, including a 20% increase in base pay for more than half of adjunct faculty after ten years without an increase, so I am excited to think about what we can accomplish together with faculty at other colleges across the Twin Cities.”

Hamline University won their first union contract with SEIU Local 284 earlier this year. Tenure-track and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus filed for a union election in January and await their election to be ordered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services after it affirmed the requested combined bargaining unit in a decision released last month.

-30-

MN Academics United is an affiliate of SEIU Local 284. Faculty at Twin Cities colleges and universities are coming together to form unions for a stronger voice in shaping our institutions’ direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education in Minnesota.

Leave a comment

Faculty at Minneapolis College of Art and Design Vote Overwhelmingly to Join SEIU Local 284 as Augsburg College Faculty File for Union Election

Twin Cities Faculty Union Movement Grows as Two Minneapolis Colleges Join Hamline, U of M in Fight to Improve Higher Ed

MINNEAPOLIS – Over 100 part-time and full-time faculty from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) voted overwhelmingly to form a faculty union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 in balloting that ended yesterday, just days after adjunct faculty at Augsburg College filed for their own union election. Instructors at both institutions are forming unions for a stronger voice to improve teaching conditions and advocate on behalf of students.

“I am thrilled to see such a resounding vote for forming our union amongst both part-time and full-time faculty,” said Daniel Dean, an Adjunct in Media at MCAD. “Now, we can work together towards changes that will improve our working conditions as well as our students’ experience. As part-time adjunct faculty, we need to know that we will be able to be there for our students when they need us.”

“I want to form an adjunct faculty union at Augsburg because I love teaching here – so much so that I am teaching this semester at a financial loss, as I did over the summer,” said Jessica Ennis, an Adjunct Instructor in Physics at Augsburg College. “I have two small children, and I pay more in child care than I make from teaching. This is not sustainable in the long term for my family and me, for my students, or for the Augsburg administration.”

Ballots were mailed out to MCAD faculty two weeks ago by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and were counted this afternoon for separate bargaining units of part-time adjunct faculty and ranked full-time faculty. With a vote count of 43 to 20 amongst part-time faculty and 16 to 13 amongst full-time faculty, 64% percent voted in favor of forming a union. MCAD faculty hope to begin bargaining their first contract before the end of the year. No election timeline has yet been set for Augsburg, but faculty requested an election by mail ballot in November.

MCAD faculty join over 13,000 higher education instructors across the country who have formed unions with SEIU in the last three years to address the growing crisis in the higher education faculty profession, including adjunct faculty at Hamline University in Saint Paul.

Steve Boland, an Adjunct Faculty member at Hamline University, expressed the support of SEIU Local 284 members: “We are excited to hear that part-time and full-time faculty at MCAD have voted to join our union and that adjuncts at Augsburg will have the same opportunity. We made major improvements at Hamline in our first union contract, including a 20% increase in base pay for more than half of adjunct faculty after ten years without an increase, so I am excited to think about what we can accomplish together with faculty at other colleges across the Twin Cities.”

Hamline University won their first union contract with SEIU Local 284 earlier this year. Tenure-track and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus filed for a union election in January and await their election to be ordered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services after it affirmed the requested combined bargaining unit in a decision released last month.

-30-

MN Academics United is an affiliate of SEIU Local 284. Faculty at Twin Cities colleges and universities are coming together to form unions for a stronger voice in shaping our institutions’ direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education in Minnesota.

Leave a comment

Hamline University Adjuncts Vote Overwhelmingly To Ratify First Union Contract

The contract, reached in December, will help promote stability through substantial wage increases and new professional development fund

St. Paul, MN – Adjunct faculty at Hamline University voted to ratify their historic first contract with the University on Friday evening after a full day of voting. The contract, reached in December, was called a win for faculty, students and whole university. After 10 years without a raise, adjuncts voted to form their Union with SEIU Local 284 in June of 2014, and negotiated their first contract for over a year. The contract was ratified with over 95% of ballots voting “yes,” and the new contract will go into effect for the spring semester.

Mark Felton, a Hamline adjunct in the business school and member of the bargaining team, praised the vote and expressed excitement about the first contract going into effect.

“Like my fellow faculty, I joined this fight for a first contract because I truly love teaching and want what is best for students, faculty and the larger Hamline community,” said Felton, who has taught at various higher education institutions in Minnesota for over 10 years. “We hope that our contract ratification, and the reality that our gains are locked in with a union contract so that they can’t be taken away later, will help to inspire others to stand up and fight to strengthen higher education across Minnesota. Increasing wages after all these years, establishing a professional development fund and crafting a system where adjuncts have advance notice of when they will teach courses will all help to create an environment where we have the capacity to do what we love to do, which is spend time with and teach our students. We know that we couldn’t have made these amazing gains without the support of students and the community who also want to make Hamline as great as possible. We are proud that we came together and made this contract a reality.”

David Weiss, Steward of the Union and Adjunct Instructor in Religion, shared how this contract will move Hamline forward.

“Having taught as an adjunct faculty member at Hamline since 2004, I am especially pleased to see this contract ratified. Hamline’s commitment to teaching excellence is now backed up by a commitment to more timely notice of teaching appointments as well as professional development support for adjunct faculty. Similarly, the University’s value of social justice is now echoed in placing renewed value on the work of its adjunct faculty,” said Weiss. “This isn’t just a ‘win’ for those of us who are adjuncts. It’s a win for the students in our classrooms and for our fulltime faculty colleagues. Bargaining a first contract is never easy, but thanks to long hours and hard work by both bargaining teams, this contract strengthens the fabric of Hamline University as whole. Although President Miller wasn’t directly involved in negotiations, this is a significant and positive accomplishment so early in her tenure at Hamline.”

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

  • All adjunct faculty will receive a raise. A majority will receive a 15% increase in Year 1 and base pay will increase by 20% by the 17-18 fiscal year.
    • Additional compensation for terminal degree and length of service will increase base pay in Year 1 by 25% and by 30% in fiscal year 17-18 .
  • A professional development fund will be established.
  • Adjunct Faculty will have much earlier notice of courses they will teach, and will be compensated for work if there is a last minute cancellation. Additionally, they will have the first right to teach a course they design or be compensated for the design.
  • Establishment of a Union/University Collaboration Committee (otherwise known as a Labor Management Committee)

The contract ratification comes just weeks after tenure-line and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota filed for a union election with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services. With approximately 2,500 instructional faculty at the Twin Cities campus, this will be one of the largest single-campus faculty unions in the country.

###

Leave a comment

Hamline University Adjuncts Reach Tentative Agreement on Historic First Union Contract

The agreement, called a victory for both faculty and students, will help promote stability through substantial wage increases and new professional development fund

St. Paul, Minn – Late Wednesday night, adjunct faculty at Hamline University reached a tentative agreement for their historic first contract with the University. After 10 years without a raise, adjuncts voted overwhelmingly to form their Union with SEIU Local 284 in June of 2014, and have been negotiating their first contract with the University for over a year. The adjunct faculty on the bargaining team praised the contract as a strong step forward to improving Hamline for adjuncts, students and the whole Hamline community.

Mark Felton, a Hamline adjunct in the business school and member of the bargaining team, highlighted how the contract is a “win-win” for everyone at Hamline.

“Teaching is my passion, which is why I joined the fight to win this first contract that makes Hamline stronger for both adjunct faculty and our students,” said Felton, who has taught at various Higher Education institutions in Minnesota for over 10 years. “Increasing wages after all these years, establishing a professional development fund and crafting a system where adjuncts have advance notice of when we will teach courses will all help to create an environment where we have the capacity to do what we love to do, which is spend time with and teach our students. We always believed we could reach an agreement that moves everyone forward, and we are proud that we came together and made this contract a reality.”

Della Zurick, a Hamline adjunct who teaches political theory and is a member of the bargaining team, shared that her love of her students got her involved in the campaign and why their support helped to make the contract a reality.

“I teach my students about standing up for their convictions, and feel strongly that this contract does just that for Hamline adjuncts who have fought so hard for what is best for both faculty and students,” said Zurick. “I feel called to teach, and find great joy in engaging with my Hamline students. It has been amazing to see and hear the support they have given us throughout my time on the campaign.  I believe this contract will help to strengthen that experience for all involved at Hamline. When adjuncts aren’t having to run from one job to the next, scrambling to fit together various pieces, it gives us more time to actually teach our students.”

Hamline students have been strong supporters of the adjuncts during the campaign for a first contract. Kyle McGuinn, a first year MFA student at Hamline, shared why he worked to support adjuncts and why he was excited for this first contract.

“This agreement is a great step forward for both Hamline students and faculty. Students supported the adjuncts bargaining for a fair first contract because we know that if our teachers are paid fairly and given the support they need, they will have more time to invest in our education,” said McGuinn. “I’m proud that adjuncts stood up for a better future for higher education, and proud that the student body showed our support for the teachers that make our education possible. This is a big win for all of Hamline.”

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

  • Raises for all adjunct faculty. A majority will receive a 15% increase in year 1 and base pay will increase by 20% by the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
  • Additional compensation for adjuncts with their terminal degree and length of service will increase base pay in year 1 by 25% and by 30% in fiscal year 2017-2018.
  • A professional development fund will be established.
  • Adjunct faculty will receive much earlier notice of courses they will teach, and will be compensated for work if there is a last minute cancellation. Additionally, they will have the first right of refusal to teach a course they design or be compensated for the curriculum.
  • Establishment of a Union/University Collaboration Committee (otherwise known as a Labor Management Committee)

Adjunct faculty in the bargaining unit will vote in early 2016 on ratification of the agreement, which would then go into effect for the Spring semester.

###

Leave a comment

Mike Poke Letter to the Editor-Sun Sailor

To the Editor:

Although my job title is “custodian” in Wayzata Public Schools, I am also a counselor, a friend and an advocate. Students call me “Mentor Mike,” and many students who are having problems at school talk to me. Because of that, I see firsthand the much discussed achievement gap between students of color and white students every day. To me, it’s not a statistic. It’s real kids who are failing while watching their peers succeed.

I work hard to try to reduce that gap and support these kids, but there are barriers to success. One barrier is the many stress factors from their environment and home life, while another is institutionalized racism in our school system.

There are a few proposals that have been put forward this legislative session that actually address the problems I see.

The “full service community schools” would address the nonacademic barriers by bringing parents and community members to the table to support our kids. It’s a proven model in helping schools beat the odds for students of color and students in poverty.

Another proposal would help people of color become teachers by offsetting some of the costs. This has been a problem in Minnesota, and kids would benefit from seeing people who look like them in front of the classroom.

In Minnesota, we don’t like to talk much about race. But the more the legislature brings in teachers, staff, parents, and community members to address it together, the more they will change.

There are a lot of proposals flying around the Capitol, but if the legislature is serious about reducing the achievement gap, I hope they listen to Mentor Mike and take these seriously.

Mike Poke

Leave a comment

Dear Legislature: Choose Educations Over Corporations-Article in St. Cloud Times

st cloud times Read the full Article here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment