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Virtual convention focuses on equity work of union

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Education Minnesota held its second virtual Representative Convention April 24, which included passage of changes to the constitution and bylaws and action items which will drive the union’s work in the next year.

More than 350 delegates from across the state attended the union’s annual business meeting.

“The state of our union is strong,” Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said. “The polling says our public is with us. Despite the turmoil of 2020 and the challenges of 2021, I believe in us, the members and staff of Education Minnesota. I believe in ‘we’ and I hope you do too.”

Delegates voted to amend the constitution and bylaws to:

  • Allow the governing board, the executive committee of the governing board and standing committees to meet by electronic means if necessary. The governing board can also authorize an electronic meeting of the Representative Convention.
  • Streamline the process for members to submit filing forms for elections.

Action items debated and approved by the delegates included:

  • Calling for charges to be dropped against protesters, which included many Education Minnesota members, participating in the Nov. 4 action fighting for freedom, justice and equality.
  • Working with allies to advocate for universal health care options for all Minnesota educators and all Minnesotans.
  • Demanding that the Legislature raise taxes on the 1 percent in order to put a down payment on fully funded, fully resourced schools that work for every student and staff member.

Having more courageous conversations about racism will only make our union stronger

Education Minnesota-Osseo ESP member, Michelle Dennard

Another action item passed stated that Education Minnesota’s local and statewide leaders will examine state and local union practices, policies, constitution and bylaws, and committee structures through a racial equity lens, dismantling systems and structures within our union that perpetuate racial inequity.

“Having more courageous conversations about racism will only make our union stronger,” said Michelle Dennard, an Education Minnesota-Osseo ESP member who spoke in support of the action item. “When the union is on the front lines of tackling systemic racism, it will not only make working conditions better for educators of color, it will create more welcoming school environments for every student, no exceptions.”

“As a leader in greater Minnesota, we sometimes hear, this isn’t our fight,” said Heather Bakke, a member of Education Minnesota GFW. “I’m here to tell you that our union is one. This is a way to look at our systems to make sure we offer welcoming places where everyone feels like they have a seat at the table.”

Education Minnesota wins NEA Human and Civil Rights Award

Education Minnesota has been named the 2021 recipient of the National Education Association’s Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award for state affiliates.

The award is given to states who support locals in racial equity work, involve more minority members in the work and leadership of the union, lead in advocacy for minority students and families, and forge relationships with other groups fighting for equity.

“As an organization, Education Minnesota is committed to meaningful, intentional and ongoing work to advance racial and social justice for its members and Minnesota students and communities,” said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht. “We know we still have a lot of work to do. We will lean into this work, and do whatever is necessary to have a racially just union and education system in Minnesota.”

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