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Lakeville teachers vote to authorize strike after 300+ days without contract

Lakeville teachers vote to authorize strike
Lakeville teachers vote to authorize strike 00:27

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Teachers in Lakeville voted overwhelmingly on Friday to authorize a strike if negotiations stall with the school district, according to Education Minnesota Lakeville.

The union says 99% of members voted to authorize its leadership to call a strike if necessary as members have been working on an expired contract for more than 300 days.

While the vote does not oblige the union to go on strike, it does allow the board to call for one and give the schools a 10-day notice.

Educators are petitioning for "a substantial wage increase, more affordable health care and benefits to support their families that reflects the substantial increase to the district's budget from the Minnesota Legislature in 2023," according to organizers. 

"Lakeville teachers are standing strong together for what they need – fair wages, benefits and job stability. We're losing more teachers to other districts due to our non-competitive wages and benefits, and this is hurting Lakeville students," said Carrie Popp, president of the Education Minnesota Lakeville. 

Lakeville teachers also want to continue to have a say in transfer decisions. The union says that "right of assignment language" allows the district to transfer teachers between subject areas, buildings and grade levels unilaterally.

A spokesperson for Lakeville Area Schools says the language is "typical for most Minnesota school districts" and that they are proposing measures to limit assignment changes annually to no more than 15 employees.

The next mediation session is scheduled for May 6, but teachers are asking for an earlier date.

The union is hosting a rally early Tuesday evening outside the district office before the school board meeting.

According to Lakeville Area Schools, a tentative agreement was reached in February but was voted down by union membership.

"Key issues that remain unresolved since the negotiations began revolve around wage increases and assignment language," a spokesperson for the district said. "The latest bargaining proposal is in line with recent increases in general education funding provided by the State."

Similarly, education support professionals in Minneapolis also voted to authorize a strike on Friday after working more than 300 days without a contract. This came just a day after the teacher's chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers announced a tentative agreement with Minneapolis Public Schools — giving the teachers their biggest raise in 25 years.

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