Mpls. teachers approve new contract, until summerby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minneapolis teachers have approved a new contract with the district. Leaders of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers-Local 59, which represents the district's teachers, said 87 percent of teachers who voted approved of the new deal. Mail-in balloting concluded Friday.
The two-year deal will cost $10.9 million. Teachers won't get any cost of living salary increases, but other increases are available to teachers who earn advanced degrees.
The deal also incorporates payments that teachers won from a recent arbitrator's ruling on back pay.
The arbitrator's ruling stemmed from the district's move in 2009 to freeze scheduled pay raises as it dealt with budget problems.
Officials also told teachers they wouldn't be able to pay for raises that are part of the state Q Comp performance pay program. The union had argued the district wanted teachers to continue Q Comp even after they knew they couldn't pay the raises.
The contract is retroactive and will be short-lived; negotiations on a new deal will start this summer. The district was fined about $800,000 last January for not have the deal in place by a state-mandated deadline.
Union president Lynn Nordgren has said the deal was the best contract possible, given the current economic times.
Nordgren says the union wasn't able to secure mandates on class size and student load for teachers that it had wanted, but she says issues like that will be saved for those new negotiations later this year.
The school board also must approve the deal to officially ratify the pact. That is expected, possibly as early as Tuesday night's board meeting.