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Minneapolis teachers union files unfair labor complaint against district over Covid safety measures

Jan. 27, 2021
Teachers contend that the Minneapolis district is refusing to negotiate over safety measures for teachers returning to classrooms.

Leaders of the teachers union in Minneapolis have filed an unfair labor practice charge against Minneapolis Public Schools, saying the district has refused to negotiate crucial safety measures for educators returning to in-person teaching.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the complaint states that "the district has yet to negotiate over the critical terms and conditions of employment involved in a safe return to in-person teaching and learning."

The union also is asserting that the district revoked previously granted accommodations that allowed educators to work from home. The union says such a "unilateral change" to the collective bargaining agreements represents a refusal to bargain.

The district says it disagrees with the charges and says that have collaborated with the union on reopening plans.

"Numerous schools across the country have successfully opened and provided in-person learning safely for students," the district says. "Because of the strength and brilliance of MPS educators, we can do the same."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced in mid-December that elementary schools could reopen as soon as Jan. 18, and many districts have already brought some of their youngest students back to classrooms.

Minneapolis' reopening plan allows preschoolers and kindergartners to return to school buildings on Feb. 8. First- and second-graders could come back on Feb. 10, followed by students in grades three through five on Feb. 22. Families will still have the option to keep their child enrolled in distance learning. 

Minneapolis teachers also have filed a separate grievance on behalf of educatorsat high risk of serious Covid-19 complications who have been denied accommodations to work from home. In addition, many teachers are also pursuing potential appeals of reassignments to teach a different grade or switch classes for in-person learning, says Greta Callahan, the union's president.

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