To the Editor: Barnum teachers want to keep union strong
By: Mike Kuitu, Pine Journal
To the Editor:
In a recent letter, Linda Redetzke, president of Education Minnesota-Barnum, gracefully complained about the Barnum School Board’s decision to hire an attorney to conduct contract negotiations with the Barnum teachers. Those attorney’s fees could be going towards a raise for the teachers.
As I understand it, this attorney has offered no raises unless the teachers agree to allow new hires to accept lower pension benefits. This would create a second class (or tier) within the Barnum negotiating unit. The Barnum teachers rejected that offer, and are now 18 months without a contract.
A similar two-tiered scheme by Sappi was recently rejected by the Steelworkers Local 11-63. Local 11-63 threatened to strike and Sappi became more reasonable.
The Barnum teachers and Steelworkers 11-63 have something in common – they both fought off underhanded attempts to weaken their unions. Seems to me, the Barnum School Board is acting like a private “for profit” organization. They have ample reserves, and add to those reserves each year. If I were a Barnum teacher....
I would hope that a majority of the Barnum School Board have received the memo that the period of extreme austerity in the Minnesota State Government has ended. Governor Dayton and the Minnesota legislature are committed to restoring education excellence in Minnesota. The Barnum School District needs to quit hoarding, make their teachers whole, and get back to the business of educating kids.
Mike Kuitu, president
Carlton County Central Labor Body