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St. Francis office professionals approve tentative agreement, avert strike

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ST. FRANCIS, Minnesota. May 12, 2023 – The office professional members of Education Minnesota St. Francis reached a tentative agreement with St. Francis Public Schools on Wednesday and the unit members approved the agreement today. 

The union had been in mediation with the district and the Bureau of Mediation Services this week as it looked ahead to its planned strike date of May 19 if an agreement hadn’t been reached. The approval of the tentative agreement means the strike will not take place. 

“We had been quiet and taken less for far too long, but we knew we couldn’t continue to sustain ourselves and our families on low wages and high insurance costs,” said Andrea Powers, a registrar at St. Francis Middle School and negotiator. “It took some time and they had to hear us roar first, but we are pleased to have gotten this contract done.” 

The bargaining unit includes 21 members who work in the district as due process and attendance clerks; registrars; and counselor’s office, purchasing, accounts payable, enrollment and copy room staff. The office professionals are a bargaining unit within the districtwide union of Education Minnesota St. Francis, which also contains separate units of teachers, preschool teachers, education assistants, bus drivers and nutrition services staff.  

The agreement still needs to be ratified by the school board, but includes about a $2-3 an hour salary increase, a one-time stipend and a health insurance contribution increase – the first insurance increase any bargaining unit in the district has received in a decade. 

“This contract is a step toward correcting the years of our work being underpaid and undervalued,” said Nancy Brunn, a registrar at St. Francis High School and negotiator. “We will be back at the table again in a year when this contract expires, and we hope to keep building upon this until the lowest paid workers aren’t paying the most for health insurance and until our jobs are valued for the professional work we do for our students, educators and schools.” 

The office professionals had been working without a contract since June 2022. This contract will be in effect until June 2024. 

“I am so proud of the solidarity shown by the office professionals who took amazing collective action because they knew they could no longer settle for the status quo,” said Ryan Fiereck, who serves as local president of all six bargaining units within Education Minnesota St. Francis. “Not only have they shown education support professional unions across the state that they can ask for what they are worth, they have shown all educators that they do not need to settle for doing more with less anymore. I would not be surprised if you see other educator unions taking a page from our OPs this year, using their united voice and power to bargain the contracts they truly deserve.” 

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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