Lawsuit continues over racial bias in MPS teacher layoff policy and other labor news – Minnesota Reformer

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Challenge of racial preferences in teacher layoffs challenged again

A lawsuit challenging a new policy to protect Minneapolis teachers of color from seniority-based layoffs will continue after the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case.

This policy was adopted in 2022 in the collective bargaining agreement Clashes have broken out between the teachers union and Minneapolis Public Schools following a 14-day strike. It states that the district must fire its least senior teachers first, rather than firing from underrepresented groups. If school districts recall fired teachers, they must first reinstate teachers from underrepresented groups, which may also include LGBTQ and multilingual teachers.

Leaders of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers advocated for the policy because teachers of color are generally younger and seniority-based layoffs would be detrimental to the district’s goals of recruiting and retaining a more diverse teaching workforce. Less than 20 percent of Minneapolis teachers are people of color, while about two-thirds of students are people of color.

Even if a policy is written carefully enough to withstand litigation, the cost of defending can be high.

According to reports, the current lawsuit comes after 17 years of no layoffs, and the policy has not even been implemented. Minneapolis School Voices Melissa Whitler first reported the ruling.

Plaintiff Deborah Clapp brought the case as a Minneapolis homeowner with assistance from the conservative legal foundation Judicial Watch. She had no personal interest in the policy and was not directly affected by it, which is why the district court judge dismissed the lawsuit. The judge ruled that Clapp was ineligible based on events that had not yet occurred, in other words, that the case was premature.

Minnesota Court of Appeals Overturned the rulingHowever, she sided with Clapp, arguing that as a taxpayer she did have an interest in challenging the illegal disbursement of public funds.

The Court of Appeal’s decision did not address the underlying claim in the Clapps lawsuit, namely that The policy violated the equal protection guarantee of the Minnesota Constitution and instead reopened the case and allowed it to be heard in Hennepin County District Court.

Greta Callahan, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that the union remains committed to the policy because students benefit from educators with a broad range of skills and life experiences.

She said the irony is that a lawsuit aimed at protecting taxpayer dollars will cost our district far more than this policy of layoffs and reallocations.

While the Department of Public Safety has not fired teachers in years, the district has warned that looming financial crisis Stemming from declining enrollment and a real estate glut.Minneapolis Public Schools buildings per student Any other area in Minnesotaaccording to finance prediction The area was released this week. The area had to close 24 buildings to reach the average of other large cities.

Callahan said while there’s always talk of possible layoffs, in reality the district is struggling to fill 6 percent of its vacant teacher positions.

Minneapolis Public Schools did not comment on the lawsuit or respond to questions about potential layoffs.

Construction contractor faces $1.8 million fine over dangerous trenching

For the fourth time in as many years, Minnesota-based Wagner Construction has won the Cited by federal labor regulators Facing a $1.8 million fine for endangering worker safety.

In 2021, the company reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor after inspectors found workers at three North Dakota job sites were exposed to excavation hazards. As part of the settlement, the company pledged to protect workers from trenching and excavation hazards.

However, in June, federal inspectors discovered that workers were at risk from trenching They replaced residential water mains in Minot.

Jennifer Rous, OSHA regional administrator, said in a statement on Tuesday that 39 people died on trenching and excavation work in 2022, the highest number in nearly 20 years, making the company reluctant to To protect its employees, this is truly troubling.

Asking job candidates about their salary will soon be banned

Under a new law that takes effect Jan. 1, Minnesota employers are not allowed to ask job applicants about their current or previous salary to set compensation.

The law aims to eliminate gender and racial wage gaps in states, where the practice of setting future wages based on current earnings threatens to exacerbate them. It also aims to encourage employers to consider only applicants’ qualifications and market conditions. However, the law does not prohibit applicants from voluntarily disclosing their salary history in order to negotiate for a higher salary.

Twenty-two other states have similar laws.

These salary history rules are valid. Rebecca Lucero, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, said in a statement Thursday that women, people of color and members of indigenous communities have seen pay increases in states with similar laws across the country. (Her agency will be responsible for enforcing the law.)

The new rules are one of A series of laws that benefit workers The bill passed the Legislature earlier this year in one of the most important sessions in at least a generation.

Construction Contractor Insurance Fraud Probation

The owner of a Twin Cities area construction company is sentenced on monday Sentenced to 20 days of electronic home monitoring and two years of probation for insurance fraud in a case that highlighted widespread exploitation of workers in the residential construction industry.

Nelson Israel Lopez Giron, 35, was sentenced in Hennepin County District Court after pleading guilty to a felony charge of lying about employee matters to reduce his workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Lopez Giron will also pay restitution and a $1,000 fine, perform 10 hours of community service and be barred from accepting any federal or state contracts while on probation.

The case came to light after an employee of Lopez-Girons was hit in the eye with a nail, causing permanent vision damage. The worker said Lopez-Giron initially only gave him eye drops and asked him to return to work. (Lopez Guillon denies this.)

The worker also said he was asked to lie about his injuries when he sought medical attention days after the injury in February 2020. He initially told medical staff he was injured from a fall on the ice, but later came forward, according to court records. Compensation was filed against the workers with the assistance of the carpenters union and the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) worker advocate.

Uber/Lyft task force begins talks

Gov. Tim Walz’s Uber and Lyft driver pay and work standards task force began negotiations in earnest Tuesday after meeting six times since this summer. The group, made up of representatives from companies, drivers, state agencies and people with disabilities, reached some consensus on proposals to the Legislature regarding price transparency, driver termination (or deactivation) and regulation of driver resources.

The group will discuss its most contentious topics – minimum wage rates and insurance coverage – at its final meeting scheduled for Dec. 19, and must submit recommendations to the governor by Jan. 1.

The task force had planned to receive data on Minnesota driver wages and fares to inform their decision-making before a final meeting, but is not expected to do so, according to Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach. The analysis won’t be ready until February or March.

Uber and Lyft drivers chant outside Gov. Tim Walz’s office on May 25, 2023, calling on him to sign legislation that would increase driver pay and give them more protections against suspensions. use. Walz ultimately formed a task force to recommend legislation. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

That means the task force will debate the issue of wages against conflicting demands from drivers and companies. Some drivers say they don’t make the minimum wage, and Uber says drivers in the Twin Cities make an average of $32.22 an hour between accepting a fare and delivering a passenger.

As part of Walz’s executive order establishing the task force, he veto a bill To regulate Uber and Lyft, the Department of Labor and Industry must conduct a study of working conditions and how potential changes could affect rider usage and costs.Both companies warned that setting the minimum wage too high could lead to Demand plummets and force them to reduce or terminate services.

The department received 2022 per-ride data from Uber and Lyft, the largest data set of its kind the government has ever reviewed, according to Lyft.

Lyfts working group representative Saahil Karpe said at a recent meeting that nothing like this has ever been done in the history of the industry.

Any regulations would have to be approved by the Legislature, which can consider the findings, along with the task force’s recommendations, when lawmakers begin a new session in February.

Minnesota United audio and video workers win first contract

The union representing about 30 Minnesota United workers who operate audio and video operations at Allianz Arena has reached a tentative agreement on their first collective bargaining agreement.

The agreement, which is expected to be approved by workers, will increase wages by an average of 29% over the next three years. It also guarantees workers will be paid at least 5.5 hours per home game, a first for in-house technicians in Minnesota, said IATSE Local 745 representative Charlie Cushing.

Workers voted to unionize in September 2022 and went on strike during the last regular-season football game in October, disrupting broadcasts of games on Apple MLS season tickets.

“A month ago, I didn’t know if we could make a deal,” Cushing said. I was ecstatic.

Cushing said the agreement would increase workers’ average pay from about $220 per game to $284 by 2026. There are 18 home games in a season.

The union didn’t get everything it wanted. Workers are pushing for health care and pension contributions, but are sacrificing those demands in exchange for bigger pay increases.

Woman sentenced to fast food job

An Ohio woman convicted of assault for throwing a burrito bowl at a Chipotle employee may have received less jail time if she had worked at the fast-food restaurant, according to a ruling last week.

Rosemary Hayne, 39, reportedly apologized to the victim for her actions but explained that her food looked disgusting. Cleveland FOX 8 News.

You didn’t get the burrito bowl the way you liked it and that’s your reaction? Judge Timothy Gilligan said as he handed down the sentence. This isn’t The Real Housewives of Parma. This behavior is unacceptable.

“I bet you won’t be happy with the food in prison,” Gilligan added.

Gilligan sentenced Hayne to 90 days in jail, but she could get 60 days if Hayne worked at a fast-food restaurant for two months, working at least 20 hours a week. Fox 8 reported that Hayne said she planned to get a restaurant job.

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