Updated: Sep 2, 2019
MFT and the District’s bargaining teams met for the first time since June on Thursday, August 15th, 2019. At the last meeting of the two teams, MFT’s bargaining team was disappointed in the District team’s rejection of their revised proposal on back-to-school time, which called for 3.5 days to be codified in the contract, increasing educators’ time for classroom preparation by an entire day. An alternative was offered by the MFT that would have increased ESP time at the beginning of the school year and provided time for collaboration with our ESP siblings, but the District refused to consider this, holding firm on their offer of an additional half-day for the 2019-20 school year only. After a brief caucus, the MFT team decided to reject the offer, allowing the issue to be raised again later in negotiations. This inability to come to any agreement was unfortunately the end of the spring sessions, but the MFT team went into the summer with high hopes for finding common ground with the District’s team when they met again in the fall.
Over the summer, the MFT Bargaining Team leadership met several times to review bargaining priorities, send information requests to the District, and draft bargaining and team meeting dates for the coming school year. The full team convened again on Wednesday August 14th, the day before meeting with the District, to review the Interview and Select proposal offered by the District in June, for which the information requests had been filled over the summer.
The District's I&S proposal represented a significant revision to the current method, cutting the second round of interviews, eliminating assured interviews to the most senior educators applying for positions, and opening the single round of I&S to outside candidates. The District’s team presented the proposal as one that would help to increase the numbers of educators of color hired by the district,, making the argument that the required interviews of senior teachers and long gaps between the two rounds of interviews hindered the ability of MPS to attract educators of color to the district.
After reviewing the over 250 pages of detailed data provided, the MFT bargaining team concluded that educators of color, while representing only about 20% of the total pool of applicants (both internal and external), were recommended for hire at the same rate as white teachers. The issue, according to the data, was in the retention of educators of color, who were released during their probationary term at a significantly higher rate than white teachers.
At the Thursday evening bargaining session, MFT team lead Caroline Hooper opened the discussion of the District’s proposal by referencing the data provided and argued that the issue was “one of retention, not of hiring.” The MFT firmly refused to let seniority be eliminated from the hiring process, but proposed additional guaranteed interviews for those educators who were multilingual, a skill not always prioritized in choosing applicants. There were also other changes to the hiring timeline proposed by the MFT, including a revised school choice and budget timeline (with budget tie-out in January), an early I&S round for current educators only, and a second round earlier in the spring to compete with other area district, as well as a suggestion that the mentoring process be revised to better meet the needs of MPS’s newest teachers.
The District team pushed back against all of the proposals made by the MFT, and a discussion of seniority and the ability to effectively retain educators of color ensued. While there were no specific decisions made during this discussion, there was a better understanding by both parties of the other side’s argument, and the MFT team requested further data in order to consider additional proposals for a streamlined hiring process and the retention of new educators of color.
Both parties agreed to additional bargaining dates this fall, all on Thursday evenings from 5pm to 8pm: September 5th and 19th, October 10th, November 7th and 21st, December 5th.