Teacher strike rights limited

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Teachers could lose the ability to strike for higher pay, if a school board were to offer them a compensation raise in proportion to the district’s general education formula increase established by the Legislature that year.

Those are the limits outlined in HF269, sponsored by Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina). The House Education Finance Committee approved the bill Feb. 22.

Downey’s bill generated support from Republicans, who believe it will lend a more balanced approach to contract bargaining in schools. They say it will give school districts flexibility when facing the decision to either hold back on compensation increases or lay off teachers.

Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing) also praised the bill’s goal of deterring strikes in schools.

“I lived through that, a strike in the community. And it divides, and there’s just losers. There’s no winners in that. So if we can avoid any strikes, that’s what we should be doing,” Kelly said.

DFLers of the committee said Republicans are launching another legislative attack on Minnesota’s teachers, whom they argue are already not paid enough.

Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) accused Downey of being out of touch with the lives of teachers and the needs of students.

“The further away you get from the classroom, the further you get away from kids, the more inclined you are to dream up all of these things, all of these proposals, that do nothing to focus on kids,” Anzelc said.

Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) sponsors the companion, SF250, which awaits action in the Senate Education Committee.