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Report reveals how Minnesota teachers in the classroom today have not voted in an election for exclusive representation by a union

Media Contact: Kim Crockett, Vice President & General Counsel; Kim.Crockett@AmericanExperiment.org, 612.388.2820

(Golden Valley, MN) A report released by Center of the American Experiment uses original research to confirm that, except for a few teachers, none of Minnesota teachers in the classroom today voted in an election for exclusive representation by a union.

Teachers in Minnesota’s K-12 schools are exclusively represented by a union and collective bargaining framework that has not been evaluated by teachers or lawmakers since its formal enactment in 1971. While teachers who belong to the union are eligible to vote on the contract negotiated by the union with their employer and local union representation, they have not had the opportunity to vote for, or against, union representation in many generations.

The Center inspected voting data from secret-ballot certification elections collected by the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS). The first teachers’ union certification election on file was in 1957, with most elections occurring in the 1970s.

“Over a 60-year period, only 18 percent of school districts with BMS records ever held a secret-ballot certification election for exclusive union representation of teachers,” says Catrin Thorman, policy fellow at the Center. “Most of the bargaining units were recognized by other means: grandfathering, joint request, or voluntary recognition—none of which require a vote from teachers.”

Because Education Minnesota has exclusive representation rights as a matter of law, the union collectively bargains on behalf of both members and non-members. But teachers have no way to assess their exclusive representative relationship with Education Minnesota, despite the union’s stated commitment to “workplace democracy” as one of its core, institutional objectives. Non-members who are forced to accept the union as their exclusive agent, do not even get to vote on the contract.

“The State of Minnesota does not require government unions like Education Minnesota to be recertified on a regular basis,” noted Kim Crockett, vice president and general counsel at the Center. “Elected officials have to ask for your vote every few years. Why wouldn’t the State give employees that same opportunity to evaluate their exclusive bargaining agent? Surely this would improve the quality of representation and empower teachers in the process.”

Minnesota teachers and education support professionals can find more information at “Educated Teachers MN” (www.EducatedTeachersMN.com) and sign up for email alerts.

The Center’s report, “Workplace Democracy? Today’s K-12 teachers did not vote for Education Minnesota,” is available here.

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