Union contract protects ‘educators of color’ if layoffs hit Minneapolis schools, report says


Minneapolis Public Schools will lay off or reassign white teachers before taking the same action with “educators of color” if cuts are needed, according to a new report.

Alpha News reported Sunday that the policy was part of a deal struck between MPS and the teacher’s union Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) last March to end a two-week strike.

One of the proposals ratified during the collective bargaining agreement included “educator of color protections.” The report said that if a non-white teacher is the subject of “excess” — a term used to describe cutting a position — it must instead lay off the least senior white teacher. The proposal will go into effect next spring.

“Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the District shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population,” the agreement reads.

The report said that the justification for these stipulations is to correct for the “continuing effects” of MPS’ previous discrimination.

“Past discrimination by the District disproportionately impacted the hiring of underrepresented teachers in the District, as compared to the relevant labor market and the community, and resulted in a lack of diversity of teachers,” the agreement reads.

Non-white teachers can also be exempted from district-wide layoffs regardless of their seniority order, and non-white teachers can be prioritized for reinstatement as well.

A lawyer with the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) said that the contract’s racial preferences violate the Minnesota and U.S. constitutions.

“The [collective bargaining agreement] … openly discriminates against white teachers based only on the color of their skin, and not their seniority or merit,” James Dickey, senior trial counsel at UMLC, told Alpha News. “Minneapolis teachers and taxpayers who oppose government-sponsored racism like this should stand up against it.”

The Star Tribune originally reported on the agreement’s “seniority-disrupting language” in June, saying that the last-in, first-out policy when it comes to handling layoffs had protected a higher percentage of white teachers.

According to the newspaper, roughly 16% of the district’s tenured teachers and 27% of its probationary teachers are people of color.


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