Friday, December 20, 2013

Bargaining Update – Moving to Mediation

Six months of bargaining between the AHEM negotiations team and the district representatives have produced so little progress that we believe it is now time to request state mediation.

We expect this step will unfortunately move talks behind closed doors, but we believe it will also accelerate our progress toward a fair and competitive settlement that will allow our educators to once again give their undivided attention to teaching and learning.

Our meeting Wednesday evening finally convinced us that we needed to try something new. It was the twelfth contract bargaining session and we made no significant progress. The current district offer is virtually unchanged from their first offer.

The district continues to insist that almost all the new money on the salary schedule come from a decrease in the value of health insurance benefits. In addition, the district has yet to respond to a number of our proposals, including extending parental leave to mothers.

More specifically, on Wednesday the district team claimed there is no real difference between the Choice Select and Elect/Essential health insurance plans. They repeated their proposal to change from 100 percent single coverage to a flat dollar amount that would need to be renegotiated each round of contract bargaining.

They also did not move from their last salary schedule increase offer of Steps 1-11: zero percent the first year and 1 percent the second; Career Steps: 1.25 percent the first year and 1.55 percent the second; and the addition of "Step 11.5" to add a year between step 11 and Career 1. (For more details, visit

As you can see, we need the help of the Bureau of Mediation Services. We anticipate the mediator will follow standard practice and close sessions to the public, but we will continue to provide you with as many details as possible during mediation.

Your input and participation has been invaluable to us. We cannot exaggerate the importance of the support we felt when hundreds of our colleagues gave up their nights to attend bargaining sessions.

We are honored to work on your behalf for a contract you deserve for the great work you do, and that helps you educate your students effectively. 

We wish you a rejuvenating break and will keep you posted,

Your AHEM Negotiations Team: Paul, LeMoyne, Vicki, Jay, Tom, Val, and Julie

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bargaining, Work to Rule, Work Out Event, BTYR, Thank You

Bargaining: We have our 12th bargaining session this coming Wednesday, December 18th, 4:45 pm, Erling Johnson Room D at the ESC.. We are hoping for a district response to a number of language items, and the key discussion will be over health insurance and our overall compensation package.  We hope you can be there in red to hear the discussion for yourself first hand. We have had over two hundred different members attend these sessions and that support and feedback has been invaluable to our negotiations team.  To catch up on the details, visit   Hope to see you Wednesday!

District Wide Work to Rule:  We are almost six months beyond the date to renew our contract. Sites have engaged in a variety of work actions to draw attention to the air of instability and uncertainty an unsettled contract causes in our schools. Our governing body, the Representative Assembly which is made of up members from each site, decided that if we have not made significant progress in negotiations by mid January, we would urge all of our members to begin "working to rule" on Tuesday, January 21st. We would withdraw our unpaid work and only be at school during our duty day or for activities for which we are paid. We wouldn't take on new projects and change how we structure our day to get things done between the bells.  Though this is a difficult action, we need to end the uncertainty and instability an unsettled contract causes in our schools.

Let's Work Out – Sharing the Extra Work We Do with Our Community: Too many members of our neighbors are unaware of the scale of the unpaid, voluntary work teachers do for their students.  We invite you and your "homework" to come to Brunswick Zone in Blaine on January 15th.  On this anniversary of what used to be a legislatively mandated settlement deadline, we will invite our local residents and the media to see just what teachers really do by taking the work we normally do at home or after hours out into the community.  Meet us at the bowling alley whenever your duty day ends with the work you normally take home to do.  We'll provide the pizza and pop, you'll provide a real look at the real lives of teachers.

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon: On Saturday, the city of Anoka was proclaimed a Yellow Ribbon City for their work supporting military connected families. AHEM is proud to be part of this effort and special thanks go out to Daryl Hathaway for leading the city team, Renee Blue for chairing the education subcommittee, and Amanda Herman for serving on the steering committee. Congratulations to the entire Anoka Yellow Ribbon team for efforts. More info here:

Holiday Thank You:  This season when the light fades is a good time to look inward and take stock of the blessings in our lives.  All of us at AHEM are deeply fortunate to support one of the most amazing groups of educators anywhere.  We have the joy of celebrating your successes, defending your boldness, and supporting the bright future you work to create for your students.  Thank you for all you do for your students, schools, union, and entire community.  Have a safe and rejuvenating winter break!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bargaining Session #12, Conversations on Safe Schools Bill, Minimum Wage, & Teacher Quality

Bargaining Session #12: Join us Wednesday, December 4th, 4:45 pm, Erling Johnson Room D. Member presence at these sessions has been invaluable, we hope you can attend to see bargaining first hand and support a fair, competitive settlement. See you in red on Wednesday!

Safe and Supportive Schools Bill Call to Action: The effort to pass the anti-bullying bill that came so very close last legislative session is kicking off this week. Join a coalition of over 80 education and youth organizations (view the list at Sunday, December 8 at South High School (3131 19th Avenue South in Minneapolis) at 2:00pm. With your support, Minnesota can go from having one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the country to one of the strongest.

Town Hall Meeting on Raising the Minimum Wage with Sen. John Hoffman: Low wage workers perform many important jobs in our community. They staff our restaurants, clean our hotels and workplaces, and work at many other service, retail, manufacturing and healthcare related jobs. As educators, we see the link between fair wages and for parents and their students academic achievement. Share your perspective with a key local legislator on Tuesday, December 10th, 6:30-7:30pm, Coon Rapids Civic Center (1155 Robinson Drive, Coon Rapids).

Community Conversation on Teacher Quality: Education Minnesota leaders are hosting statewide conversations to improve teacher preparation, recruitment and diversity. Parents, educators, students, advocates, community leaders -- anyone interested in the future of Minnesota public education -- are invited to attend.  Join the discussion Thursday, December 12th, 6:30-8:30 pm at Park Center IB World High School (7300 Brooklyn Boulevard in Brooklyn Park). For more information visit: