St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 15, 2010 – Minnesota school teachers made historic sacrifices in pay and benefits in their latest contract negotiations to help school districts deal with difficult financial conditions.
Education Minnesota, the union of 70,000 educators, estimates more than half of the state’s teachers accepted salary freezes in one or both years of their new two year contracts. Salary increases averaged just 0.77 percent in the first year, and only 0.96 percent in the second year. They’re the lowest settlements on record.
“Teachers are making historic sacrifices for the sake of their students,” said Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher.
Just four years ago, Minnesota ranked 16th in the nation in average teacher salary. Today, it ranks 20th. The average teacher salary in Minnesota is $51,938, compared to the national average of $54,333. The average starting salary for a Minnesota teacher is just $33,009.
An estimated 309 of the state’s 344 districts met the January 15 deadline to reach settlements with their teachers. The 35 districts which are not expected to make the deadline face a $25 per student fine.
“I want to congratulate the teachers in the settled districts,” Dooher said. “Despite all the difficulties and troubled times, they worked through their issues together. They did the best they could under tough conditions. Their communities should be proud of the leadership, patience and hard work their teachers demonstrated.”
One of the most difficult issues in this year’s bargaining was the soaring cost of health insurance. Studies have shown those costs, far more than teacher salaries, are responsible for escalating expenses to schools. “It makes sense that if we can lower that cost, we can put those resources where they directly benefit our students,” Dooher said.
“Despite all the rhetoric, we know these things are true,” Dooher said. “The Jan. 15 deadline works. Teachers accepted remarkable sacrifices to make that happen. They’re doing everything they can to put the interests of their students first, and we hope everyone else can do the same.”
Editor's comment: My question is, how many teachers experienced actual cuts in pay? I don't begrudge teachers for what they make - they earn it! But what the teachers did is nothing to brag about. If they took 5 or 10% pay cuts, that would be something to crow about, because that's what's going on in the private sector!