A Minneapolis teachers union contract stipulates that white teachers will be laid off or reassigned before “educators of color” in the event Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) needs to reduce staff.
After the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and MPS struck a deal on March 25 to end a 14-day teacher strike, the two sides drew up and ratified a new collective bargaining agreement complete with various proposals.
One of the proposals dealt with “educators of color protections.” The agreement states that if a non-white teacher is subject to excess, MPS must excess a white teacher with the “next least” seniority.
“Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the District shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population,” the agreement reads.
According to the United Federation of Teachers, “excessing” means “reducing staff in a particular school when there is a reduction in the number of available positions in a title or license area in that school.”
The agreement adds that non-white teachers, as well as those working in various programs, “may be exempted from district-wide layoff[s] outside seniority order.” The agreement also prioritizes the reinstatement of teachers from “underrepresented populations” over white teachers.
The stated justification for these measures is “to remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination by the District.”
“Past discrimination by the District disproportionately impacted the hiring of underrepresented teachers in the District, as compared to the relevant labor market and the community, and resulted in a lack of diversity of teachers,” the agreement adds.
The Star Tribune reports that the “seniority-disrupting language” of the agreement is one of the first of its kind in the entire United States. Teachers are normally laid off or excessed based on seniority alone, but the new agreement adds a racial component as well.
James Dickey, senior trial counsel at the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), says the racial component violates both the Minnesota and United States constitutions.
“The [collective bargaining agreement] … openly discriminates against white teachers based only on the color of their skin, and not their seniority or merit,” Dickey told Alpha News. “Minneapolis teachers and taxpayers who oppose government-sponsored racism like this should stand up against it.”
Dickey also urged “any Minneapolis taxpayer or teacher who opposes this racial preference system” to send the UMLC an email.
According to the Star Tribune, roughly 16% of MPS teachers with tenure and 27% of its probationary teachers are non-white, while more than 60% of students are non-white.