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EPEA March Update #3: March 31, 2022


Happy Last Day of March!

As we usher in a new month, we hope you had an enjoyable Spring Break and have recouped physical, mental, and emotional energy.

There are a few updates related to action needed in this legislative action, the EPEA support of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and planning for the upcoming Union Week.


LEGISLATIVE SUPPORT NEEDED:

There are three bills in the current legislative session that make teaching more attractive by enhancing retirement benefits to recognize educators’ hard work on behalf of students.

  • HF3771: Ensures a secure retirement by increasing the cost-of-living adjustment for retirees in all pension plans to 2.5 percent a year starting on Jan. 1, 2023.

  • HF3773/SF3558: Provides 24 months of service credit for every 12 months of service for public school employees for 2020, 2021 and 2022. This makes it more affordable for school employees to retire earlier if they choose.

  • HF3942/SF3649: Brings back Rule of 90. This allows an educator to retire when the employee's age plus the number of years of eligible service amount to 90, without a reduction in retirement benefits.

ACTION NEEDED: Use this FORM to easily write your legislators and Gov. Tim Walz and tell them to improve retirement benefits to recruit and retain the best educators for our students!

There are additional bills that propose additional time and resources to meet the needs of our students and those who serve them.

  • HF1742 would give Minnesota schools about $225 million to hire more counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and chemical dependency counselors. Districts would receive $235 per pupil to address the shortage of student support service personnel.

  • HF217 Increase Teachers of Color Act strengthened, teachers of color and American Indian teachers in Minnesota percentage increase sought, reports required, and money appropriated.

  • HF711 establishes a teacher licensure requirement for early education programs

  • HF1188 This bill establishes a school health services specialist position at the Department of Education and appropriates money for the position.

  • HF1317 establishes a refundable income tax credit for educator expenses paid by elementary and secondary educators, as well as certain prekindergarten teachers.

All house bills can be found here

EPEA STANDS with MINNEAPOLIS FEDERATION of TEACHERS: EPEA members served alongside their Minneapolis counterparts while they were striking for safe and stable schools. Approximately a dozen EPEA members brought coffee, hot chocolate, and various snacks to provide some sustenance as educators were on the picket lines. A former EPEA Scholarship Awardee Megan Sutton (pictured upper left photo) is a SpEd educator at Olson Middle School in Minneapolis Schools. She was greatly appreciative of the continued support educators in Eden Prairie continue to show. In addition, EPEA members learned more about the issues surrounding the concerns in Minneapolis Public Schools, gained insights into the organizational workings of the MFT's decision and steps needed to carry out the huge movement, the roles of strike captains, and the vital importance of partnering with the Minneapolis parent community. EPEA will take a few notes from MFT's experience to strengthen our community partnerships in the future.


GET OUT the VOTE: The 2022 election is predicted to be extremely important to the health of public schools in Minnesota. The decisions elected officials make are critical to our working conditions. To highlight the overall significance of the upcoming local, state and national seats, please take a look at the issues that will aid or harm public education and our collective bargaining rights. In the coming months, EPEA will inform you of important items to consider and ask for you to take one big action--VOTE. Watch for your

opportunity to show your commitment to the election process when you complete your pledge card and pledge to vote in the 2022 election.


UPCOMING FOOD DRIVE:

The week of April 18-22 is our Union Week: "Strengthening our Community." During this week, EPEA/EPPEA members can donate food, specifically tailored to summer family needs which will be delivered to the EP Prop. Please consider donating items below. You will soon find a green collection box in your staff lounge.


UPCOMING SCHOLARSHIP RAFFLE Also during our Union Week: Strengthening our Community," EPEA EPPEA will be collecting donations for the EPEA Scholarship Fund in hopes to expand our impact for seniors pursuing a career in education. As an added bit of fun, all those who donate toward the scholarship fund will be entered into one of six raffle prizes: Gift cards, products, and experiences.


LISTENING SESSION: On Wednesday, April 20th, your contract negotiators will host a Zoom listening session as to what contract items you would like to see improved in the next round of

negotiations. Please look for reminders to "Pop-in" to the session as time grows nearer.


As EPEA leadership continues to support members in ROUNDS of staffing, workload concerns, resources for student support, advocacy in situations of discipline, support in relicensure steps, partnerships with administration, preparation for Preschool teacher negotiations, and education for probationary staff, we are here for you too. Please reach out to your site leader as your first level of support should you need it.

Happy Spring!

EPEA Leadership Team

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