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MFT Local 59 Educational Support Professionals rally at school board for decent wages

By staff |
October 10, 2018
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Minneapolis, MN - Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) rallied at the Minneapolis Schools District Headquarters to demand decent wages for over 1500 ESPs, October 9.

The ESPs are currently negotiating their contract. At stake is higher wages, but the district has said that certain ESPs must give up their breaks in order to get the wage increases. Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teacher Local 59 ESP chapter members expressed that they will not give up breaks for higher wages, that both should be on the table.

The school workers who serve kids, and who are impacted by this issue, currently work for the lowest of wages - at $13.19 per hour. It has been proposed to raise starting wages to $15 per hour, but then the district will not give breaks to the ESPs, most of who work split shifts.

During the public comment, many ESPs spoke of the difficulty of their jobs, of working short-staffed at some schools, of struggling to make ends meet on the paltry wages and having to work a second or third job.

The low pay has meant that many ESPs have left the district for better paying jobs. Currently there are 60 unfilled ESP positions in the district, which means that a lot of ESPs have do more work with fewer people, and also on lower pay. In one high school, over a five-year period, they had staffing shortages that resulted in only having full staff of Special Education Assistants for a single month. This same high school started the school year with 32 DCD (Developmental Cognitive Disabilities) students and only seven Special Education Assistants to work with them.

ESPs in Minneapolis have had their step increases frozen during the negotiations, so many staff have not seen a raise since 2016.

According the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, there is a shortage of school support staff across the state of Minnesota, and the same issues that face Minneapolis Public schools are faced by school districts in the state.

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