Home Minnesota Educator Better together: Educators continue to choose union

Better together: Educators continue to choose union

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Being an educator is one of the hardest jobs—and it’s never been more difficult. But through our union, our members have the strongest possible voice to advocate for students, our profession, public education and our communities.

Five years after the Supreme Court ruled that non-members do not have to pay a portion of public sector union fees, Education Minnesota’s membership remains strong.

Educators across the state continue to join their local, state and national unions and new locals continue to organize with Education Minnesota.

As the largest labor union in the state, Education Minnesota is a powerful, collective voice for educators and students. Through your affiliation with a strong statewide union, your locals are stronger and have more resources are available to you.

Did you know that your dues make you a member of your local union, Education Minnesota, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and the regional, state and national AFL-CIO?

Did you know in 2022, Education Minnesota-Retired won an award from the National Education Association for the largest percentage increase in members?

That year, EM-Retired saw a growth of 7.8 percent, or 755 new members. EM-Retired is Education Minnesota’s biggest local union. If you are retiring or retired, and have been a member for at least 10 years, you may qualify for retired membership at NO additional cost. Retired members receive liability insurance for working as a sub and continue to support our work, including pension reform advocacy.

Did you know between January 2022 and April 2023, six new locals have sought out and joined Education Minnesota?

We welcome the Springfield Confidential staff, New York Mills paraprofessionals, Robbinsdale Equity Allies, Martin County West Clerical ESPs, Stewartville Administrative Assistant Professionals and the Anoka Hennepin Kitchen Site Supervisors!

We continue to receive requests for information about unionizing and work to make sure all educators in Minnesota feel like they have the support they deserve!

Where do my dues go?

Education Minnesota works to support members every day and promote union values, provide welcoming and relevant opportunities, focus on the recruitment and retention of members while still providing programming for our members to ensure strong locals into the future. Your dues fund that work.

The rest—23 percent—goes toward union governance and infrastructure. That includes rent, utilities, equipment and tech support for 13 offices across the state.

Who represents me at the state level?

Member-led Governing Board
Education Minnesota is governed by three officers and a 47-member governing board elected by members, representing all parts of the state, to ensure the union’s goals and priorities are driven by members.

Education Minnesota’s leaders are guided by our statements of principle, our strategic plan and our constitution and bylaws.

Each spring, more than 500 elected delegates meet to set policy and direction for our organization at our annual business meeting, the Representative Convention. The governing board meets throughout the year to set dues, adopt a budget and carry out directives passed at the Representative Convention.

The governing board also sets priorities for its work and for the organization.

The organizational priorities are:

  • Racial equity and social justice: Co-create equitable schools and anti-racist unions that welcome all students and educators, no matter their color, orientation, economic status, religion, abilities or ZIP code.
  • Full funding for strong public schools: Establish a full and permanent funding system for public schools to guarantee that students and educators have the resources they need to deliver the education our students deserve, from early childhood to post-secondary.
  • Strong locals: Empower locals and members working collectively to be strong, trusted advocates for public education at the local and state levels.

Member-led Standing Committees
Education Minnesota also has numerous standing committees, each comprised of members representing each zone of our state. These committees include a new pension advocacy group to chart a course for our new stage of advocacy; councils of local teacher chapter and ESP presidents, who work on local union advocacy issues; a legislative action committee, who considers and recommends legislative positions to the board; a professional advocacy committee, who considers and recommends policies and programs to the elected officers and other leaders regarding matters pertinent to the professional lives of members; and more.

Find out who represents you on the governing board, standing committees or find any governance documents under the “About Us” section of

Why I belong

Education Minnesota members share why belonging to a union is important to them. Every member across the state has their reasons for belonging, and each and every one is important!

“(During distance learning), my local union helped to fight for me to have that time in the classroom and to have extra prep time. Not only to prepare for the different style of teaching I was doing, but also that time to meet with colleagues in order for us to provide more support.”

– France Roberts, Wayzata

“Our staff felt alone in their frustrations with being underpaid and undervalued and they realized they were no longer alone (with coming together in union to fight for more). We are stronger than ever and excited to work together on our next negotiations.”

– Andrea Powers, St. Francis office professionals

“(Working with Education Minnesota) has helped us create more leaders within our teachers and provides with us that confidence that our voice matters and it deserves to be heard, and helps us create meaningful and positive ways to engage all our members in union activities. It’s really created a much closer and supportive community within our teachers and it makes us better educators for our students, which in the end is what it’s all about.”

– Jen Trask, Bemidji

“The unions are there to fight for what’s right. Students are going to benefit from that. Our district passed a resolution to support LGBTQ+. That’s going to benefit so many students in our district. If it wasn’t for the union being supportive and being there and rallying with our students and our teachers and our family members, I don’t know if it would have gone through.”

– Melissa Buckley, Osseo

“I think of the union as a megaphone. It gives us the ability to take the voice of one person and amplify it and get people to pay attention to what we are working toward.”

– Heather Bakke, St. Peter

“I started out my career at a school that was not unionized. When I then got a union job at an independent school district, it made me realize how much this other school without a unionized staff relied on unpaid labor and people putting in extra hours and how much the union protects educators’ ability to have a life outside our job.”

– Chad Benesh, Cook County

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