fbpx

Latest Posts

Home

Facebook

Twitter

Search
About

Teacher workplace democracy is a principle but not a practice

Workplace democracy is, unfortunately, a short-lived promise to teachers in Minnesota. While teachers’ unions often claim to favor a democratic approach to our public education system, teachers are rendered mute when it comes to choosing their own union. Workplace democracy is a principle, not a practice.

The legal exclusive representation of public-sector unions to bargain collectively for government employees (including teachers) was enacted in Minnesota by the Public Employees Labor Relations Act (PELRA) of 1971. On paper, public employees legitimize their representation through a secret ballot vote in favor of union representation. In practice, the vast majority of teachers in the classroom today have never voted in a union certification election. The union that represents them was chosen by its members back in the 1970s, and because unions do not have to stand for re-election after being formed, teachers have no meaningful opportunity to vote for a new union or hold their current union more accountable.

All Minnesota public school districts have had union representation in place during the years after PELRA, but only 18 percent of school districts on record with the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) ever held a secret-ballot election for this representation. Only five teachers have voted in a certification election across all school districts from 2000-2017, according to available data from BMS. That certification election was held in the tiny Pine Point Public School District (Becker County) in 2000 with five votes in favor of exclusive representation by Education Minnesota out of a total of eight eligible votes.

Besides secret-ballot elections, union representation in the school districts on record at BMS was either amended to reflect new representation under Education Minnesota or recognized in other ways that did not require a vote (joint request, voluntary recognition, or grandfathering).

Minnesota teachers are being represented by an heirloom union—a union selected by teachers from a generation or more ago—that may not serve their 21st-century interests or expectations. Teachers rely on their union to negotiate salary, health benefits, hours, and work conditions on their behalf. Full dues-paying members are eligible to vote on the contract negotiated by the union with their employer, and they get to vote on union leadership, but shouldn’t they also be able to vote on whether or not the union—which has the exclusive power to represent all teachers, including non-members—has represented them well?

Requiring re-certification elections of bargaining units on a regular basis will extend Minnesota teachers’ voting rights and give them a say in choosing who represents them and how. They will then be able to put into practice the workplace democracy they deserve.

Comments

Subscribe

Categories

Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota: St. Cloud

    Location: St. Cloud

    Sign up HERE! Courtyard by Marriott St. Cloud 404 West Saint Germain Street St. Cloud, MN, 56301 Please join Center of the American Experiment on Tuesday, July 21 for breakfast with Center policy fellow and education expert Catrin Wigfall as she explains K-12 education in the state and its persistent disparities despite decades of increased spending. Following her presentation, Catrin will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude   Catrin Wigfall is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. She is also the director of EducatedTeachersMN and EmployeeFreedomMN. Catrin’s…

    Register Now
  • Kristi Noem: The Courage to Reject a Shutdown

    Location: Online

    Sign up HERE! Join us Wednesday, July 8th for an interview with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem over Zoom. In response to COVID-19, Noem defied the norm of a statewide shutdown and let South Dakotans choose for themselves what safety precautions to take. Tune in to this live online event to hear how Governor Noem preserved her state’s economy while still keeping citizens safe. Wednesday, July 8th at Noon CT Sign up HERE!  

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota: Marshall

    Location: Marshall Golf Club

      Sign up for this event HERE! Please join Center of the American Experiment on Thursday, July 16 at Marshall Golf Club for a breakfast with Center economist, John Phelan, as he discusses Minnesota’s economic future. Following his presentation, John will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude John Phelan is a graduate of Birkbeck College, University of London, where he earned a BSc in Economics, and of the London School of Economics where he earned an MSc. He worked in finance for ten years before becoming a professional economist. He…

    Register Now