“Walkout Wednesday started a few weeks ago,”said Wilson Elementary 4th grade teacher Justin Bushard.
It’s a gesture meant to show the school district that the teachers union, Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota, isn’t satisfied with the current contract negotiation.
“Are we walking out on our duty time? No, we walk out at the end of our duty time together as a show of solidarity,” said Bushard, who also serves on the AHEM executive board.
The teachers contract expired at the end of June, and teachers have been working without a contract since then.
“Our initial offer was basically what we thought the state had given the district and inflation,” said Bushard.
That wasn’t the offer the union received from the district.
“That’s when we decided that that’s not acceptable. That’s not a respectful offer. So we decided to. Say no, and we started actions like this.”
The school district said in a written statement that “the current offer from the district is the largest in the history of the Anoka-Hennepin School District with a 3% salary schedule improvement in 2023-24 and a 2% salary schedule improvement in the 2024-25 school year.”
The teachers union says, that isn’t enough.
“Worst case scenario is a strike. We don’t want strike. Nobody wants to strike. That’s, a lot of wasted energy, in my opinion. But if we have to strike, we will strike because we need a contract that reflects the money that was given by the state, by the legislature to our district,” said Bushard.
Negotiations will continue, but until an agreement is reached, teachers like Justin Bushard and his colleagues will continue their walkouts.
“I know that everyone is stressed right now. We want to put our focus on the students where it needs to be, but we also want to make sure that we’re fighting for our families and getting a fair contract settlement,” said Bushard.