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Minneapolis NAACP, Black Teachers Call Out Racism Behind Recent Teacher Strike

Alexis Mann, who is running against current union boss Greta Callahan to lead MFT, accused Callahan of using the strike as a campaign tactic—not a tool to provide better pay or working conditions for union members. (screenshot from video)

Minneapolis NAACP Press Conference RE: Teacher Strike & Union Leadership
Streamed live on Apr 28, 2022
https://youtu.be/COTHywDsHBY
From the NAACP:

https://www.minneapolisnaacp.org

"What was the real intent, what MFT didn’t tell the community, and why? The Minneapolis NAACP is investigating many allegations of harassment, bullying, racism, lack of support, and retaliation from several black teachers against the MFT. We will have some of these teachers available for questions."

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The Minneapolis NAACP held a press conference at the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers offices Thursday afternoon to unveil "the truth behind the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) deception" concerning the recent teacher strike.

https://www.edpost.com/stories/minneapolis-naacp-black-teachers-call-out-racism-behind-recent-teacher-strike

BY ED POST STAFF

April 29, 2022

Shady Campaign Tactics?

Alexis Mann, who is running against current union boss Greta Callahan to lead MFT, accused Callahan of using the strike as a campaign tactic—not a tool to provide better pay or working conditions for union members.

Mann alleges that MFT operates with a lack of transparency, and although she initially supported the teacher strike, she could not—in good faith—continue to do so once protections for teachers of color were off the table. Mann went on to claim that she has been targeted and bullied as a result. Mann said the agreement the union signed as a result of what Mann called a “desperation vote” protected seniority at all costs, dropping protections for teachers of color, teacher recruitment, teacher retention, bonuses, and even salary increases.

The Minneapolis NAACP endorsed Mann’s candidacy, which she noted in the press conference.

“The strike was carefully calculated [to begin] on the very same day that our nomination opened, which made it difficult for the election to get much publicity in our union,” Mann said. Mann went on to suggest that the lack of publicity and a number of other “unfair election practices” are racist tactics from inside the union. Greta Callahan—Mann’s opposition—is white.

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers will elect union leaders in May.

The Stakes Are Real

This is about so much more than a union leadership campaign.

Mann noted how important it is to bulk up the Black educator pipeline in Minnesota.

“There is a teacher shortage. There is a lack of diversity in our teacher workforce. There's a lack of Black teachers, there's a lack of people of color, and there are systems in place that make it very difficult for teachers to get into the classroom. This whole system of protecting teachers’ seniority at the expense of recruiting and retaining a diverse teacher workforce is not going to work. It is not sustainable.”

Help Is Available

The good news is that organizations like the Center for Black Educator Development exist. https://www.thecenterblacked.org

Through the Center’s Academies, Teaching Pathways, Professional Learning, and more, you can help bring more Black educators into classrooms in your neighborhood. You’ll be glad you did because more students will graduate and fewer will be unnecessarily disciplined along the way—the research says so.

IZA DP No. 10630: The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers

https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/10630/the-long-run-impacts-of-same-race-teachers

To learn more about the importance of hiring more Black educators, tune into the Center’s “Building the Black Educator Pipeline” show Thursdays on

Ed Post’s Facebook and YouTube.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=518433746346416

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m5XYZsrUbc&t=1s

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Minneapolis NAACP Press Conference RE: Teacher Strike & Union Leadership

Streamed live on Apr 28, 2022

https://youtu.be/COTHywDsHBY

Minneapolis NAACP Press Conference RE- Teacher Strike & Union Leadership Fri, 4/29 6:31PM • 45:25

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

teachers, strike, union, district, students, seniority, members, protections, naacp, schools, election, alexis, minneapolis, speak, leadership, black, demand, negotiating, contract, protecting

00:00

payment? Ready, we're ready.

00:23

Again, thank you all for coming up name is Cynthia Wilson. I am the president of Minneapolis NAACP. And I'm here to tell this man who is one of our teachers have been able to share some information about the reason why we're here. But the main reason why we're here is to also uncover discrimination practices that are held right here, because we will you guys are aware of the findings that came out in the Minneapolis Police Department. And they're not the only entity. We the Minneapolis NAACP will be unveiling a lot of other entities who have also been very active in discrimination practices against black people. And so some of those other entities City Council, the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Park, and recreation board, and we are doing our, our work in terms of bringing all of this information to life. So today, we initially had three teachers who are willing to come one actually had an emergency where they had gone. Number one is either enroll for maybe it's detained in some other capacity. But nonetheless, we are here we have information that we want to share. It is my job as as the president of N double ACP is to, to investigate any findings, or any allegations that comes to our office. And with that being said, let's to finish share a plethora of information for you today, and what what's been going on. But I do want to add that. Prior to this press conference, I was asked to come to this very building when they started the strike. And I stood in solidarity at that time, because I didn't have all of the information about what was going on. But after I did some research, I found out that the purpose of that absolutely nothing to do with the teachers, financial gain with smaller classes, everything that they laid out, the truth was there. And so we want to unveil the truth. It was actually used as a means to do what I'm sorry when we tried that a man right ratchet Callahan. what she was doing with campaign she could tell was a way for her to campaign during the time that we needed our children in school. And so this whole campaign has been bailed all together, for her to get out of her message, and not for others. It was meant to tell her story about also campaign. So this is an opportunity for you to know what's really going on. So with no further outs, man, we do have a community member. He was like his name to be anonymous, for a lot of reasons. But he has a lot of information as well. He'll be speaking afterwards. And after what you can ask if you have any questions. And the next thing,

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we'll have a student here with me, too, that I brought well, when I'm going to share my words, because I just want to say that I'm very honored and thankful for the NAACP support of my candidacy for president, teachers, and I'm running with the Coalition of truth. But we are here to uncover the truth, we are here to report the truth. And we are here to demand the truth as we did not with respect to the strike, strike was carefully calculated such that the strike was filed, it happened on the very same day that our nomination opened. So that was that made it very difficult for the election itself to get any publicity within our union. In addition to that the strike was pressed to pick up precipitated upon the safe and stable schools notion. However, in fact, this whole strike was really all about protecting the teachers. As we see in our terms of contract agreement, there is no change to teach a seniority in that agreement, although there are some contract language and the contract drop protection for underrepresented teachers that has really nothing to do with protecting black teachers, but the other teachers of color. Also the language that's in the contract is mostly reactionary, and the exit interview process. It doesn't really speak to the recruitment process, or the retention process and what steps are going to be taken outside of the mentoring piece because there are a lot of political dynamics that are involved in who gets placed to buildings and who provides mentoring and who's on what team and that is also seen with the strike not only was a campaign tactic by President it was also used as a means of Why our union members are now more divided than ever, especially if you're like me, and you knew better than to participate in the strike because of the truth not being told. I was present in the union. Well, before the strike talk started, I heard the previous president Shelby's talk about how important it was to protect seniority because it had been taken off the books at the state level. So there are no statutory protections for lastin. First out, so the only way that they can protect teachers seniority is through our teachers contract. So this union has been building up the momentum we've hired organizers from the state and local levels to come in and get members organized, because was not read us on doing that help for other members that paid by Education Minnesota and our union, to work on behalf of protecting teachers. And honestly, I'll say that right now, we're in a crisis in the state of Minnesota, as far as teachers, there is a teacher shortage, there is a lack of diversity in our teacher workforce, there's a lack of black teachers, there's a lack of teachers of color. And there are Wait, there are systems in place that make it very difficult for teachers to get into the classroom. This whole system of protecting teachers seniority and expense of recruiting and retaining a divorce, or I'm sorry, first workforce is is not going to work. It is not sustainable. We have so many vacancies in Minneapolis called the schools right now that have not been filled, where we have district program facilitators who have been reassigned and pulled out of their positions to go substance in schools. So there's room for everybody. I'm not sure exactly why our union has continued to pit increasing our diverse workforce against teacher seniority. I'm not understanding the strategy in that. But I have witnessed both budgeting and bargaining cycles, wherein members have been kept in the dark about how they're negotiating what they're negotiating. I've seen the pattern of salary increases that are in line with the lack of changes in our interviewing select process. So if you look and pay close attention to our interview and select process and our tentative agreement, and then our teacher contract, that is the seniority piece that didn't change. And I did when I asked union leadership prior to the strike, actually, before the walkout actually happened, what they were doing about the MLA that was was presented to the district this round. And just to give you a little education around that the MO way that was introduced to the district on this last negotiation round was the second time they introduced the very same MLA that was written and drafted by the union. And rejected by the district because of the legalities around Title Nine, and you can't hire or fire somebody based on race. So the district did not accept that they introduced the same MLA, this time round changed a little bit of the language, then when the district said, hey, yeah, we'll accept it. But let's make it this. Let's say you have to have graduated from an HBCU. Or you have to be a resident of Minneapolis for that. He wasn't expecting that response. And then what they did was they failed to negotiate on that in a way, which as the MLA could be negotiated anytime in our contract, it doesn't have to be tied to our regular contract budgeting, I'm sorry, bargaining cycle. So in that respect, they deliberately withheld protecting teachers of color, black teachers from this current budget tie out cycle, that one that thing had before the recent reopening of the budget title process. As a result, we lost more black teachers and teachers of color. While our union was out door knocking, they could have been at the table negotiating that away. But they waited until after budget to close at that point that it was

08:33

on March 5, I believe it was according to the district website, updates, MFT removed that language altogether. They removed that language altogether, the protections were then taken away. So that was used as a bargaining chip to forestall the strike. That was part of the reason why the strike took as many days as it did. We also learned the MFT was doing dirty negotiating there are passing blank proposals to the district. And when the district rejected those blank proposals that they put on the table, they walked out and said we're done negotiating, they use very limited time to negotiate during the strike with the district, they said they'd be there 24/7. That was not the case. As a result, people are now losing their jobs, more people are losing their jobs, because of the demands that were met, wanting to end the strike and then also forcing a desperation vote, if you will, waiting until March 26, or whatever it was that Friday to present the agreement to members giving us two days to approve it at a time when we were very close to losing our healthcare benefits. Unacceptable on both sides. It was a it was a cruel negotiation tactic, the agreement, the tentative agreement that the teachers agreed to, there are many of us that are not happy with it. There are many of us that are not satisfied. There are many of us that are now going to lose their jobs as a result of budget to being reopened. Now with all of that sounds very difficult, but I'm here to bring home. I'm here to bring change. I'm here to leave the union with Bob. All right, I'm here to demand that we prioritize student achievement. I'm here to demand that we stopped with the politics, the racist practices. I'm here to demand the truth. I'm here to demand transparency. I'm here to demand that we make steps towards making our district great again, we are losing students by the by the vote, we lost 1000 More students throughout the strike, we cannot continue to lose students and maintain a healthy budget. In addition to that, we're doing picketing at the Davis Center around who gets cut. Instead of that, let's go lockstep with the district down to the Capitol. And let's hold our Senate accountable to increasing funding at the state level, let's hold our Senate and our legislators accountable for education equity, it starts with funding, we are fighting the wrong fight, we don't need to fight each other and be mad at each other because folks didn't start because they had alternative perspectives, or they knew the truth like I did. We should not be we should not be silencing members, we should not be ignoring members voices like those of us at Harrison who've been asking for safe and stable schools, and our MLA that has not even been introduced to the district. So I have personal reasons for not wanting to strike for not being able to strike. In addition to my financial limitations as a single mom, I've got three kids and two grandkids, I'm the sole provider for them all, but I'm gonna go away, I know how to make a way out. And I can certainly do that. In this case, we need new leadership, new leadership that's not tied to any political interests or ulterior motives, right. And so I'm here to bring hope, hope to our students, that things can get better. Now, what I'll say too, is when we think about this election, our union is not publicizing, you will not go to their website landing page and find a document about the election, you'll have to be savvy enough to click the election tab to get those details, you will also not be able to find this information on their Facebook page that they updated all the time. And I've asked over and over again why. And I gotten attacked by other members. Recently, I went to the school board, or the school board building, took 77 balloons with to represent the percentage percentage of students in this district that can't read at grade level, I went to ask are you you to prioritize this, to start talking about this, to start demanding changes around the academic disparities in our state and in our school. And instead I was I was booed, by me bully teachers, I was blue. They didn't even want to hear what I had to say. So this is an example of the type of union leadership that we are currently experiencing that, again, is not sustainable if we want to continue to keep students in our schools, if we want to continue to keep teachers in our district, because we're driving them out with this, this bullying, this racism, the strike, and asking people to lose money and sacrifice their pay, and then not getting what they want. They've been promised a return. I've got Robert. Robert, do you want to speak on some of this? This is a friend of mine. Yeah,

12:55

I'm a teacher, I'm not in the union.

12:59

Talk about that. Come on out. Robert. I'll give you some space.

13:08

Mike, and I know each other from some classes at the school district, I work in an alternative school. Reunion. There's maybe 10 or 15.

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School districts

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where their students in the school district but the teachers are tiny, again, and that's a lot for that. But basically, these are the students that they've served, dropped out been kicked out for complex reasons that schools are unable to serve as students. So you know, I kind of just say, Hi, my concern is that you are outside the union. And I just want to know why that's the case. While you're not like within the eating, trying to feel as a criticism, joint strike now, that was something that really frustrated me because the strike was a source of hope and inspiration for the teachers and students at my school. Even though we weren't on strike, we actually went home to the real valleys, because it was a finally a political opening from decades of neglect from our schools, teachers, students and the community are starting to stand up and say we can continue to function this way and respect to your voice and I think that the district has not bargaining as a friend. It's about time to kind of different priorities for you So I've been able to go actually fun the last couple of weeks.

15:16

So that's what our response was about. Because I've been, that's been a criticism. But first I want to say I am a member of, and I am speaking from inside of union. And I do go to these meetings, Robert. So you're, you're not there. And you might not know what's really going on inside of these buildings. This strike was never even about what y'all all went to the to the picket lines. But you the problem is you are misinformed. The problem is that you are misguided. Let me speak let me speak because I was here when there was only 30 people in this building. I was here when Michelle, we said they had to do everything they could to protect the children. So I'm going to speak to my truth. And I need you to know, as a member who wants to be in this union, there needs to be more transparency, these deals are taking place behind closed doors, the promises that were made as a result of the strike did not come to fruition from the strike. However, we were quick to go to into a teacher agreement, there was something that the union got out of that negotiation practice that they did with the district that they foresaw for, as long as they did that had nothing to do with what you and your colleagues were striking about. And I also want to add that the criticism about me not striking is further evidence of the condition. This strike was used to divide members. And basically, if you are not well informed, then you're thinking you're striking for one thing, none of us got what we expected. With this strike. We were all duped. We were all bamboozled. Except for me, I knew the truth. So I wasn't going to sit up and make a, you know, statement that yeah, I support you. And I did vote in support of the strike. But if you're not prioritizing protections for black teachers, that's me, that's a problem for you. Why can't lose money, and you're not protecting my people. I'm unwilling Hang on, let me finish. Let me finish because I don't want to turn this into an argument. But I'm unwilling to support a union that does not prioritize recruiting and retaining black teachers, I need to be clear about that. I am a black woman, I speak for black people, there are over 65 students in this district that are black, or students of color. Okay, less than 30% of our workforce are teachers of color, Robert, that's a problem that's been upheld for too long, even with his current leadership. And what we do with the misinformation is we create a divide. That is why transparency is so important. Because Robert, if you knew what I knew, then you'd understand better. That's what that's what I want to say. And I just encourage you to stay more engaged to stay more involved so that you can make informed decisions so that people can't tell you one thing and do another. That's what my family taught me.

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It's that way for me to come in real quick, because this is what I want you to see. I don't want you to, I didn't want you to I wanted this to be real, right? This was not staged? And we didn't matter. We did. We did not want him not to talk, because that's what transparency? Yes, right. Not for him a space to talk would have been would have been veiling

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was what was done to me. So I'm very

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grateful for this, because this is what you want. At this time. I would like to have

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this is this is what the media should be very excited about. Mr. Robert came over and had a nice exchange. This is Alexis who's running for the president of the teachers union. We would like to see that kind of debate happen between the two candidates. That is real transparency. Alexis, who's running for the presidency, went out to this district in front of the school district with all the teachers that she's in solidarity with because of the profession of teaching our children. There was no debate. There was no time or space for her to articulate her opinions. And matter of fact, she was quite bullied. And this is this is not right. She's speaking on behalf of a lot of black teachers and mainly black students who are 77% of the failure in these, these Minneapolis Public Schools. 77% of black students can't read at grade level. Imagine how upset we should be about that. Instead of teachers getting paid more money that are actually producing some failure. Let's be honest. Our children deserve better. Our teachers deserve better and they do deserve at least a platform where they can debate about the issues. Alexis has been silenced out in every capacity of transparency around this Teachers Union Election. Election. I do the media or anybody watching right now. Go to the MF T's website and try to learn more about this election taking place. It's almost being put motive, like the teachers union strike is still going on today. You don't hear anything about that. And so, Alexis, I really want to say just as somebody being in the community for you to even give up your space, because this is a press conference for you, and the rest of the black teachers and teachers that are in solidarity with the issues, to give up your space to somebody, to even be challenged publicly in front of the media. So here's your

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this is Ally, Ally, I'm about understanding I've worked with Robert, we've been to trainings together, worked alongside each other in the past, this is an ally, but I understand the narrative that's been painted about me who happens to be black by our union. And I don't, I don't have I don't stand to gain anything by you know, coming and disrupting the union. That is not my goal. What I want is I want to put kids first, I want to prioritize student achievement. When I asked about these things, during and before the strike, I was ignored. I have email communication that was sent out to the Union asking them, What are you going to do about this MOS? What's the status? Is there going to are you going to negotiate it, there was no response, I could not in good faith in my heart, as a black woman support a strike that sought to use us us in black teachers and tickets as a bargaining chip, which is exactly what happened, Robert, unfortunately, I'm sorry. So many people lost their job. It's very selfish of our leadership to do this to all of these members, and to fool us all to maintain teacher seniority. But I'm here to say, we're gonna have to find another way, we're gonna have to find another way to fix the teacher seniority thing, and increase our diverse teacher workforce.

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This is a segue before. I'm gonna stand with Alexis, and we're challenging Greta, for a public debate, public debate. Let's

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put the truth out there, it's really good to

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just put her name out there, and I let her have her side to tell her side as well. But if we're lying to come out, in front of the understand the NAACP will host that

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works for us. Now voting does open Monday. And this is another cute thing that our union check this out. So I want to get this out there. So voting is going to open on Monday, they're going to be sending ballots to members work, mail emails, they're already sending emails to some members if you get it because for some mysterious reason, now, I'm not getting any of the emails will have to forward me these messages and the message, one of the messages that was just forwarded to me said that you have to go through extra steps to set up the email that's going to come from this balancing serving group that's going to oversee our election, set it up so that the email gets to your inbox. So if you don't get that email, and you don't take the steps to set up this address to in your inbox to receive the ballot, you won't receive it. Secondly, you get one ballot, but the election stays open for two weeks. So we have to that means that members if they don't vote on Monday, they got to remember to go scroll all the way through their email to find that ballot. So that is just another unfair election practice just for folks. If we can get the word out. Go ahead and open your inbox on Monday, contact the election committee if you did not get the email with the survey link in it for the election ballot and make sure that you vote before May 13. Do you think the

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teachers union is practicing a form of racism inside the union with this election? will absolutely

23:37

because like I said the the strike was filed on the intent to strike was following the very same day that nominations day after nominations closed. That's when the agreement came. Now members I'm a full time teacher I didn't have the luxury like the current leadership to be pulled out on release to campaign alongside the previous president to get into office. I didn't have that luxury I had to continue working full time. So this is very difficult for a full time teacher to carry out a strong campaign and six weeks and I stepped in at the 11th hour because the feast of Muhammad I originally nominated her but because she was bullied by our union she saw firsthand the racism after the Henry teachers and she decided look I'm gonna leave the classroom I believe my school and I'm gonna leave the distance. And if it wasn't for her administrator use it alright Henry, she wouldn't be gone. So here I am to answer the call. In principle, I could not let this current leader run out a post with the things that she has been doing to members and our students.

24:45

So again, we are looking to have a debate with Greta Gribble. between today and tomorrow we will try to finalize a time in place and we'll get that out and the Minneapolis NAACP will host that I do want to allow Robert, a chance to respond. I'm not giving you all my time.

25:12

I'm kind of speaking, there's a lot of internal politics happening. So add a little bit of context. MFT, like a lot of unions around the country have been operating a business union model, which is very top down. And there's been a process of transformation towards a more horizontal, bottom up grassroots basis through the model. And union isn't there yet. And that's why things are so messy lately. Leadership doesn't have a ton of experience around just how do we evolve membership, because that hasn't been the model. But we're seeing a new labor movement happening in this country, where people are desperate for to have a voice in the workplace, about their working conditions, and not just have people on top, like their employer or union bosses have everything to say. So I'm speaking from a place of support for the Union, I think there needs to be more discourse and debate about how the union is run. You but people can disagree. And I'm just really concerned that right now, there are forces within the city, who don't care about public education, we're supporting groups and using the language of civil rights to undermine the union, because they actually don't care about public education. And one group I want to speak to is the Minneapolis Foundation, they fund some good work. But in the end, they don't care about public education. They want to see it privatize. And that's part of the charter movement that we're seeing in, in this city and across the world. One last thing is, I have worked here at Charter School. And it was, in some ways, very creative environment was super stressful. I was I was tricked out to pay for my job. And so that's one reason why I'm really desperate to happen to have a union job where we can have internal discussions could be debate and votes act together, as in terms of what's good for the teachers and students in the community. And those are really my concerns.

27:17

Yeah, I appreciate that. I want to say something about the legislative piece of this too, because I there's a lot of money. I mean, the union, there's a lot of money that goes to Minneapolis Federation, a lot of money and bothers a lot of money at stake. There's a reason why not. And the unions work and education, Minnesota is where education, Minnesota is an extremely powerful political organization. There are extreme political interests at stake in the leadership that that is in charge of all unions, and particular Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. And if we want leadership that cares about changing the trajectory for our students that we have to put politics aside, what we've seen for decades is a lack of progress, especially for black students and students of color across the state. We used to come second to Wisconsin, but we're back at the top, leaving the nation and academic disparities. And I don't see a movement to change that coming from within our union. And if you come in like me to say, hey, let's prioritize achievement, let's let's create a more diverse workforce, you're anti union. And that's sort of acceptable. That is unacceptable. When you have a different perspective, and you're treated differently. It is unacceptable when your priorities don't call for you to be able to strike and to lose money. And because you have bills to pay, you have Instameet, but yet you're treated and ostracized, like you are like you don't pay I pay dues to be a member in this union. I do not appreciate being referred to as anti union or anti public schools, especially when our kids are doing so bad. So if I'm calling attention to this issue, and I'm asking for us to prioritize, issue, that's what let's leave it at that. Let's not leave the suspicion and all of the public, you know, private charter school debate, that's something we can't stop that's bigger than me that's bigger than this union right now that's bigger than the election. And that's something else that we're gonna have to figure out as a state. But we just cannot continue to operate the way that we've been operating. It was important for me to bring a student here so that he can speak to his experience with teachers. And I'll just ask them a quick question and then we can you can take questions from the media. Want to come up? He is an adult this this young man is 19 years old. His name is Tyreke and I just want to ask you, Tommy, what has been your experience with teachers you're 19 years old, you're about to graduate. You haven't quite graduated yet. Talking to speak a little bit about how how your educational experience has been specifically how your teachers your teachers have treated you

29:49

I honestly hate it you have me as a person I really don't like Gordian knot of the back door Build, they don't build bonds with us, which makes it really hard to learn the relationship, they're just not willing to do that.

30:15

So there's a lack of connection teachers aren't making. How well do you read? Do you feel like you're reading at grade level? I used to read at a reading level a couple years ago, right? So the teachers aren't teaching you to read. So this is an issue with being anti union. Now I work with the most marginalized students in our district. And none of them can read at grade level, it breaks my heart, it breaks my heart, how many of you are willing to marry somebody who can't read? How many of you want your kids to marry somebody who can't read? Well, these people are gonna be starting families, they're gonna have families of their own. So by not teaching our kids to read, we are creating generational poverty in our state. This has to stop winter lows, I'm going to be here to continue to demand changes around our academic disparities in this state. Thank you. And I'll take questions. Alexis, I

31:16

am humble enough to admit that there was a lot of this seemed like inside baseball that I do not understand. If you have to boil it down. Sounds like maybe Greta abused her position. And so you want a fair election? I mean, what if you boil down what we're here for?

31:32

What is well, the first thing I'm here for is I want to demand demand that we start to prioritize, achieve, we must change the trajectory for our students 77% of the students in the district can. But we're not hearing about that with a strike. That has not been prioritized. I'm here today, to bring awareness to the fact that we need to change and our union leadership also to bring up to to highlight this, this historic partnership between myself and the NAACP, a teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools, running for president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, this is historic, this has not happened before.

32:17

He said last time, we were here on Thursday, we'll keep showing up. And if this was a shooting, or a kid getting killed, or somebody being murdered, but this place would be flooded with for us and don't get me wrong, we're thankful for those who are here. But whenever you're standing up for the living a life, you can't get people to grasp that you don't maybe doesn't sell, it's not good news. But this information is vital to the success of our black children. This is a case of prisons a pipeline, but they don't we what do you think's going to happen? There's going to be out in somebody's backyard vandalizing breaking it, they're going to do what they need to do to survive. So if we're not going to get the help here, when is it going to start? So when I call this press conference, I wanted to make sure that we're transparent. We're given a team raw and uncut. And we're being very integrity about the information that we're providing. So if you have to question, can you explain to us a little bit more about what you want to see in the contract, particularly as it relates to teachers of color that is not in this agreement that was just approved? Well,

33:19

so we need a new framework for how we're addressing, right, and there's something called affirmative action. Right? We can use something like affirmative action to address this. Because what we're doing right now is we're setting the district up for liability lawsuits.

33:51

Say that again?

33:54

I wouldn't as personally, I would entertain affirmative action language as as contract language in place of what's currently in there, and maybe by me saying this, and I don't win or, you know, I'm gonna claim it. But that There you go. There's the there's the blueprint, okay. Affirmative action, let's, let's look at some affirmative action. Also, we're going to have to look at the interview process, because the way that it's set up right now, just I know that you mentioned that you don't know much about the site. Let me make this. I'm going to do a quick tutorial of how this process works. Okay, so right now, there are eight candidates that get interviewed for any one position, right? Four of those candidates are the most senior teachers. Okay, so most senior teachers who apply for the position, get considered for an interview first, then they look at the next two internal candidates based on seniority again, so you're leaving out the ones in the middle, but then there's only two openings from the outside that have an opportunity to interview for a position. So with the current way that are interviewing Select process is set up, you're only going to interview two people from the outside. Now, that's after you've already interviewed six people now, and that's two rounds, two rounds of interviewing that way. So then by the time you wait for your turn from the outside, you've already gotten another job, you're thinking, you're not going to get an interview, you're not waiting around, you need to feed your family, you need to know what's going to happen. So that is why we see a very small number of black teachers and teachers of color coming in. And most of them who do come in, by the way, are black teachers or teachers of color, yet, they're the first ones to go out based on the contract. By the way, the protections that are in the tentative agreement, they do not impact this current, this contract cycle. So there are still protections right now we're gonna lose more black teachers as a result of this strike. So I again, I am very proud of my decision, Robert, I'm sorry. I'm very proud of my decision not to strike because that was my strike. As a black teacher. I did strike right in my building, right? Because I could not I will not be used that way.

36:09

John, if you could spell your name for us to please. That Correct.

36:15

x i s. Alexis, man, Ma.

36:18

Can you teach where I'm teaching.

36:21

I'm a teacher at Harrison, a proud teacher at Harrison Education Center. About Harrison so I'm an English teacher. I'm an English teacher at Harrison Education Center. All of the students there are at risk. The students at Harrison have all been rejected and excluded from their regular mainstream schools because of their behaviors or something they did. Kids like this, this young man here don't even know how they got there. They don't even understand it. The world he's in special education for he wanted to be able to tell you a lot of my kids is a high school. So I teach nine to 12. A lot of the kids I teach have been in a setting for they've come from riverbed and feeds and right over to Harrison River. Ben is the K H program for students who have been excluded to the point where they cannot be in a mainstream setting with their peers. 98% of the students at Harrison are black. Over half of the staff at Harrison are black. We've asked we have a lot of needs at Harrison that are not being met under our current contract with NASA some special language for us prior to the strike four years ago, got nowhere. And I'll say while I'm on the subject. To the district's credit, they acknowledge that there needs to be special language for those of us that work at Harrison, there was an MO way that they drafted on their letterhead that was agreed to however, our union put the kibosh on it and has since refused to bring it up. And I just can't help but to believe as I look around the staff in the building, that it has something to do with predominantly black staff in our building, and the predominantly black students of color that

38:03

you mentioned, the bullying and harassment that you face, donate your calling face. Do you feel that that is targeted? Are you telling us that this is a larger issue within the union?

38:15

Oh, yeah. So it's not just me, I'm not the only one. But Henry teachers were were treated very poorly, and they were on strike. And when they brought up this request to put the protections for teachers of color back to the table, they were lambasted for 90 minutes, they were belittled, they were bullied and made to feel worthless by our union for even asking that they put those protections back on the table, the union, and I'm speaking of the leadership, they said that they did they admitted that those protections were off the table, they wouldn't tell membership, they weren't gonna say hey, you guys, we, we took those protections off the table. I actually got it from the district's website on March 5, we didn't start we didn't walk out to march 8. So that's why we'll strike March 5, they took that language out. So they don't care who you are. If you're black, if you're a teacher of color, they're coming. And if you try to speak out against them, you're anti union. You don't know what you're talking about. And I've been coming to these meetings. So Oh, yes, I do know what I'm talking about. I'll just say again, you said you voted against going on strike. I voted in support of the strike. You voted in support Israel, when I saw that they took the language off of the table, protecting teachers of color, I could not in good faith support the strike at that point. Yes, in addition to other reasons that I learned and going to these meetings,

39:41

so you were not on the picket lines, weren't you?

39:45

Yes, but I once I saw what was happening and how it was being politicized, filing it on the day that nominations open. I knew what she was up to. I couldn't

39:56

so to build on your saying you want to prioritize students before Like the strength was not doing absolute one specifically, just because from our perspective and covering it only what we have. So saying, you know, what I get smaller classes is more multiple scores,

40:10

which we didn't get. Right? We did not get smaller class sizes. And even that language is troubling for me to say that you're going to cap the class size the fourth floor, why would we even do that? Why is worse than the classroom? Okay, do we need contract language that says you can stop 44 kids in the classroom? I don't like that. I want to see language that says no more than 35. I mean, even that's a lot. What do we have to do to really, really bring our classroom size and stuff on site? What

40:41

about what about the demands or the way they were presented to us? disingenuous it was. So I think they were.

40:52

So they say statement statements. And when I was going to these meetings before, members were demanding strike, strike, strike, and they all want to go on strike for about their pay. And the Union made it clear. They said, This is what you get, when you go to the meetings, they said, We can't strike for money, because they won't support it, nobody will support it, the community will not support it. We have we have to strike for bread and butter issues, like smaller classroom sizes, more than our supports. Yeah, so that I was in those meetings, but that was settled. They've been they've been members had to. And then also they said we just don't have enough membership, participation and involvement to strike this cycle killed time, we could have went on strike when the district had the money that they used to add, that would have been a better time to strike. However, we have not engaged our membership enough. We haven't moved closer toward that service model, right? We're stuck in the status quo thing for political reasons, or whatever it is. But I would say that was a lot of ambiguity, save and save the school. What does that mean? So when members asked, well, you know, what is that about? Tell your story, go out and tell your story about what it's like as a teacher with little resources. So we're thinking, Okay, it's what we say. But it wasn't safe and stable schools. It wasn't clearly defined. A lot of members have even asked this, I don't know. But they're just striking, because it's the right thing to do that show solidarity, but nobody's really questioned it. And if they did information that's not there. And then union with it. When I got information, and I brought it to the membership. They'd say, Oh, it didn't come from us don't believe. But nothing's coming. And I had nothing else to believe. So there, again, is the lack of transparency, which is another thing that I have demanded.

42:35

And then just to clarify what's going on with that we, you know, we knew like protections in terms of like the bullet point line, can you dive into some more details about the protections that you got? When you see them taken off the table that

42:49

you want us? Well, they took the whole thing off the table, first of all, so that they took the MRA out, and like I said, back in June, the district was okay with it. They finally said, okay, yeah, we'll do it. This is good. Remember this the second time they brought the same MLA, but MFT, our current leader didn't expect that response. And if you go back to their archives, and you look, you can you can see for yourself, what happened there. And then it was just never brought up again. So the last time I was in a bargaining session was the October bargaining session, which was still open. And they asked at the beginning of that session session, can we please get to the teacher of color in my way, that was back in October, had we done that, we would have been able to save jobs, we would have been able to say some of these black teachers jobs and these teachers of colors, jobs that lost their jobs, just this first budget tiled cycle, but just MFT did not bring it up. Instead, they went on COVID and COVID, and COVID. And I remember district negotiators saying, Hey, we don't think you're bargaining in good faith, we've already responded to all of these requests. You keep asking us about the same things and you've already responded to. So I saw what was happening back in October, you know, I mean, I didn't wait until people started hearing strike. And that's what we're probably gonna get more money. And honestly, based on what I'm seeing, in my observation, I'm looking for the truth, and I'm gonna keep looking. I feel like we have relinquished our salary increase to protect teacher seniority. The district's last best and final offer for both groups was more than what we settled for. So what, what did the district What did the union said to the district that they got off the hook from giving us more money? The district was willing to give us more money. But the union said no, no, that's okay. You don't have to give us more money just give us but we don't know what that is because it was negotiated behind closed doors, and I have a strong feeling and I've said this in the community meetings that I'm in with a board chair Allison, we're actually meeting tonight and I'm going to ask her again. And I told her I'm gonna keep asking her they don't want to say it. They're keeping this quiet. It's teachers. So members are both bonuses are raising our pay increases are all held hostage so that they can protect teacher seniority. So when we decide that we really want to get more money, we're going to have to address the teacher seniority. And that's not to say I'm anti white, anti seniority, that is to say I'm about equity. I'm about barriers.

45:20

Right. Thank you so much.



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