Statement from Presidents Shaun Laden and Michelle Wiese
March 19th, 2020
As we move through the first week of school closure and the opening of childcare centers for those workers granted childcare rights by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-02 MFT has been working on advocating for member safety, pay and benefits, and necessary student and staff supports to provide for equitable distance learning in the months to come.
MFT is working to clarify safety standards, ensure proper cleaning, and provision of appropriate protective equipment for childcare centers and providers. MFT is also advocating for a premium pay rate for our ESP who are working these assignments.
If you are working at a Childcare Center and have questions, concerns, or suggestions please use this link and fill out the form.
Pay and Benefits
MPS has confirmed that they will pay ESP who are bus riders their daily bus hours through the current closure. If able, ESP should adjust their hours in ESS or contact their supervisor to assist them.
MPS has also agreed to pay hourly workers providing childcare, transportation, food service and other mission critical work a $3 an hour premium through March 27th.
Short call substitute teachers are encouraged to apply for unemployment insurance through www.uimn.org. The Governor has changed and waived some rules through Executive Order. While there is expanded access to unemployment insurance, it is unclear whether short call substitute teachers will qualify. It is the advice of both the State of Minnesota and MFT to apply now to get in the system.
MFT’s Joint Executive Board has passed $5,000 in additional support for Working Partnerships to help financially distressed union workers during this time. If you are experiencing a financial hardship because of reduced hours contact Working Partnerships at (612) 379-8130.
There are no further negotiations sessions scheduled for either the Teacher, ESP, or Adult Education chapters at this time. Each chapter is working on how to proceed and updates will come out in the coming days.
The MFT Elections Committee is working on providing opportunities to nominate candidates to MFT office by the end of March. Elections will happen in early May via electronic ballot and, as required by our Constitution and Bylaws, an in person option.
Open Issues Surrounding the Closing
MFT is tracking and working on changes to unemployment insurance and its impact on members, state legislation to require hourly employees are paid in the event of an extended shutdown and state funding during a shutdown, staff and student access to technology for distance learning, premium pay for employees working on site during the school closure, worker health and safety standards while onsite at childcare facilities, teacher licensure, clarifying work expectations for salaried and hourly staff, Spring Break Academy and more.
Statewide Responses to COVID-19
Education Minnesota, our statewide affiliate union, along with dozens of other labor and community coalition partners are calling for an historic response in the interest of workers and marginalized communities.
Find out more information here about Community Cares: A People Centered Response to Covid-19 Public Health Emergency here.
We recognize that many new and challenging issues continue to arise every day. Our efforts in the past few days have been to respond to those challenges while figuring out how to ensure the work of our local does not stop.
In the coming weeks we will be turning some of our attention to planning and working on what will happen as we move through what appears to be a months long closure and public health crisis.
Again, thank you for your work and commitment to your students and one another.
Michelle Wiese Shaun Laden
MFT President MFT ESP President