MINNEAPOLIS – Kudos to Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson for promising to keep citizens updated on the details of teachers union contract negotiations, now that the union has taken steps to close the bargaining sessions to the media and public.
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has requested the assistance of a state mediator in contract negotiations, which have been ongoing since June. The State Bureau of Mediation Services insists on having closed meetings.
Union President Lynn Nordgren told StarTribune.com that she wants a mediator because “we are not making much progress. We believe a mediator will help us get more focused so we can come to some decisions together.”
But Nordgren has complained in the past about open negotiations and “being sniped at by outside observers who argued that the district isn’t aggressive enough in contract demands,” the news report said.
In other words, at least some citizens watching the negotiations tend to side with the district, something the union will not tolerate. Union leaders have long been guilty of manipulating public opinion in their favor and using it as leverage during contract talks, but they clearly have no use for citizens who aren’t doing their bidding.
Johnson, the superintendent, said negotiations have been dragging because the union has refused to focus on key issues until the last few meetings, according to the news report.
That’s hardly the fault of citizens who have quietly watched the proceedings.
Johnson respects the right of taxpayers to view the negotiating process, particularly since their tax money is being spent, and promised to keep them abreast of the situation with “timely, complete and accurate” reports.
“I strongly disagree with the MFT’s decision to shut the public out of these talks,” Johnson said.
At least somebody respects the rights of everyday taxpayers in Minneapolis.
After all, they are the people who pay for the schools and the people staffing them.
By Steve Gunn at EAGnews.org
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