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The power of our union

Educators are powerful when we have a collective voice. Working in union gives us the power to make meaningful improvements for students, our profession, public education and our communities.

Unions routinely secure better wages, benefits and workplace protections for the workers they represent by negotiating terms and conditions of employment through collective bargaining. For educators, coming together in union also means we can advocate for what students need in every corner of the state.

That’s why it’s so important for educators to choose union – we have more influence when there are more of us.

Education Minnesota is a member-led union, governed by three officers and a 47-member governing board, all elected by members. Representing all areas of the state, this board and our union’s standing committees ensure the union’s goals and priorities are driven by members.

The governing board sets priorities for the organization’s work. Click here or on the image below to learn about the board’s priorities and the work done on them in the last year.

Why belonging to Education Minnesota matters

A voice for public education

Elected officials in your school district, state Legislature and U.S. Congress are constantly weighing policies on funding and policies that affect contracts, pensions and teaching and learning. Your local, state and national unions are the way your voice is heard in those rooms. Your union is the one to bring in you — the education experts — to share your stories and perspectives, as well as stand as a powerful, large, collective voice on the issues that matter most to educators and schools.

Respect for the profession

Together, we can demand better pay and benefits that value the important work we do in our schools. A union contract is a tool to address issues in and out of our classrooms and campuses, including class sizes, a dignified retirement, reasonable caseloads and educator voice in decision making. Educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. Honoring the work of educators means attracting and retaining high-quality staff in our schools, which in turn leads to better outcomes for students.

A place for professional growth

As educators, we value and promote educator quality and improving our practice. Being a part of Education Minnesota means hundreds of frequent, diverse and valuable trainings for educators, by educators, across the state. Our online and in-person trainings are available to members for free.

A champion for our students and communities

While far from perfect, our union and the broader labor movement have a proud and long history of advancing civil rights. These include the rights of our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, colleagues, and neighbors, as well as the right of every citizen to be treated fairly in their workplaces and by our government. Equity work looks different in every district in the state, but educators have a responsibility to eliminate racism, discrimination and poverty so all Minnesota students — no matter what they look like, where they come from or how they identify — can thrive and achieve their dreams.

Why I choose union

You union is a place for you to come together with other educators to improve not only your pay, benefits and profession, but the lives of your students and families.

Listen to fellow educators from across the state talk about why they value belonging to Education Minnesota, choose union and believe in the power of a collective voice.


Watch until the end to hear my amazing #minnesota accent lol #teachersunions #teachersoftiktok

♬ original sound – sabocat
Mandi Jung, St. Paul
Fletcher Nelson, Detroit Lakes
Glazell Toledo, District 287
Daniel Honigs, Columbia Heights

Attacks on unions and public education

When workers come together, their voice is more powerful in their worksites and makes sure they can build better lives for families and communities.

There have been numerous attacks on unions by corporate interests aiming to lessen worker voice – most notably the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case Janus vs. AFSCME. The Janus decision allows public sector employees to enjoy the benefits of a negotiated contract without paying for it.

Many states have also decimated labor laws, many aimed directly at educators. And the attacks can happen fast. In Iowa, anti-union lawmakers passed a bill which decimated collective bargaining laws in just 10 days. In Wisconsin, teacher compensation plummeted $10,483 within four years of their anti-union bill, Act 10, passing.

Listen to two Minnesota teachers who worked in Iowa and Wisconsin when anti-union laws passed share their stories of what happened to their contracts, working conditions and benefits.

Attacks on public education and public educators – from pre-K to higher education – are reaching new heights from school privatization to undermining educators’ ability to create safe and welcoming schools and teach the honest history of our country.

Through our union, educators have partnered with parents and their communities to push back in places like Florida. Together, we can be heard.

How it’s playing out in Minnesota

Education Minnesota members continue to choose union and because of that, our voice is still loud and strong. In 2023, we advocated for and the Legislature actually passed laws EXPANDING union rights, not taking them away.

Even as we remain strong, anti-union activists and the people who pay for them will try to twist the facts about union membership, dues and political activity. Here are some organizations to watch for and their agenda, including the Center of the American Experiment and Educated Teachers MN and the Freedom Foundation’s Opt Out Today.

A movement of workers

Unions are cool again! In 2022, more than 16 million workers in the United States were represented by a union—an increase of 200,000 from 2021, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

At Education Minnesota, more than six new locals have joined our union since January 2022. We continue to receive requests for information about unionizing and will continue to work to make sure all educators in minnesota feel like they have the support they deserve!

As a member of Education Minnesota, you are also a part of your local union, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, regional AFL-CIO labor councils, and the statewide and national AFL-CIO.

High unionization rates are consistently associated with a much broader set of positive spillover effects across multiple dimensions. These positive outcomes include higher state and local minimum wages, better health benefits, easier access to unemployment insurance, access to paid sick leave, access to paid family and medical leave and unrestricted voting opportunities (Banerjee et al. 2021).

Live your union values

Spending money on union-made, “Made in America” products is an act of solidarity that promotes good jobs, healthy workplaces and workers’ rights. Check out the AFL-CIO shopping lists for union-made products!

When some labor disputes with businesses can’t be resolved, the AFL-CIO supports its affiliates by endorsing their boycotts. A boycott is an act of solidarity by voluntarily abstaining from the purchase or use of a product or service. Current list of AFL-CIO boycotts.

Local leader resources

Member engagement is crucial to the work we do. This is especially true for our newest members. Many of them are stepping into the classroom for the first time and are looking to their more veteran colleagues for tips, advice and guidance. The union can, and should, play a big role in fostering that relationship.

Visit the link below for local leader resources to engage members on the power of our union and issues they care about, from classroom management to education debt.