Membership VS. Fairshare. Extension of Membership While on Leave or Discharged.
Q: When does it matter to be a member vs. fairshare?
A: It matters if you need:
- Discharge cases, MDE maltreatment investigation interviews, Bd of Teaching (teacher licensure) matters, initial assignment of counsel up to point of criminal charges being filed. Grievance support should an individual (not contract defense) issue go to arbitration
- $1M liability policy coverage, (errors and omissions policy), – this covers defending civil litigation, reimbursement of up to $35,000 in criminal defense acquittals
- Continuous payment of dues at the last level while active is required if matters are being pursued while you are on leave or discharged
Q: Is membership automatic?
A: Membership is not automatic! You must fill out a Membership Application (card) and have dues properly deducted to have the benefits of membership.
- To apply for union membership as a teacher or ESP – ask a steward, call MFT, or come by MFT and get an application filled out.
- Dues “Check off” is allowed under state law and the contract for any membership or share amounts to be deducted automatically
- “LOC59FS” means Local 59 Fairshare (not a member) fees are being deducted and you may not be a member
- “LOCAL 59” means you are a member according to our records
Q: Can I be have a membership if I am a discharged or going on leave as a teacher?
A: A "Reserve Membership" is offered through Education Minnesota if you are going on leave or being discharged. You must apply before the leave or discharge takes effect. You must be extending membership (you cannot convert from fairshare to membership status at the same time). The dues must be paid up to the end of the current year (8/31) and renewed prior to 8/31 if you need to take an additional year. You can access the Reserve Membership Application here ,(must have "membership" status at time of application).
Q: Can I be a member if I am a substitute teacher?
A: A "substitute membership" is offered by Education Minnesota. It costs $55/year. You can access the Substitute Membership Application here.
Q: What is administrative leave? Can MPS place me on administrative leave?
A: Administrative leave means you will still be paid but are not to report to work or have contact with colleagues or students. The District is legally allowed to direct you to stay home and pay you while allegations are investigated. This is often the most difficult time in a teacher’s career. Contact MFT for some proactive steps you can take while on leave to prepare yourself. Do not attempt to contact any staff or students during this time, or attempt to investigate on your own, as you may end up violating the directives in the administrative letter and/or may be accused of retaliating against those who may have been asked for a statement in your matter.
Q: What is a Tennessen warning (Data Privacy Act Warning)
A: Tennessen Warning is a requirement to tell you that your responses become part of the District’s record. Under the MN Government Data Practices Act, the school district needs to inform you of:
- Why it’s being collected and how it will be used.
- Whether the individual can refuse or is legally required to provide the data being requested from him or her.
- What consequences are of supplying or not supplying the data.
- What other agencies or person will legally be able to get the data.
Not providing a “Tennessen Warning" means that the data cannot be kept or used – but keep in mind that the warning can be easily remedied by giving it and then asking you the same questions. A Tennessen Warning does not have to be in writing, but a written Tennessen Warning is recommended. See sample Tennessen Warning (Minnesota Data Practices Information Form).
Q: What constitutes “discipline”?
A: Discipline is not being imposed when you receive:
- Notice of Concern and Expectation
- Hallmark: Language to the effect of “This letter shall serve as notice to you…” (meaning it is "notice" of concerns, not discipline resulting).
- Administrative leave for the purpose of investigating is not disciplinary
Discipline is being imposed when you receive:
- A Notice of Deficiency
- “Final Warning”
- Last Chance Agreement
- an unpaid suspension, or
- Hallmark of a disciplinary letter: “Further incidents will lead to further discipline up to and including discharge...” (Implying that there is discipline being imposed and there will be harsher discipline imposed next time).
Q: How much discipline is legally appropriate?
A: Discipline can be imposed with the purpose of seeing that the conduct will not reoccur. Harsher discipline will likely be upheld by an arbitrator if conduct reoccurs after earlier discipline – especially if the conduct is similar or creates a pattern. If the discipline is consistent with or “lighter” than discipline generally imposed in other cases, an arbitrator is less likely to favor a challenge on your case (MFT and/or legal counsel can advise you whether this may be true in your case).
An employee’s entire employment record is “in play” at any given time when discipline is considered – which means the periods of good service as well as disciplinary incidents. Your employment files should be considered important to protect, so make sure you ask about any grievance rights if you get a letter.
Q: What triggers an investigation by the teacher licensing board (Board of Teaching, or “BOT”)?
A: See: BOT Reporting Mandates (2008). Disciplinary suspensions, terminations are among the transactions that are reported to the BOT. If the BOT activates an investigation of your license, you will be individually notified by letter containing the concerns and advised that you may respond within 30 days from the date of the letter.
Q: How do I get assistance with a BOT investigation?
A: If you are an active member of MFT, (i.e., signed a membership card and paying member dues – not fairshare), at the time the letter arrives then you will get legal assistance with your response. MFT does not receive notification of this kind of investigation. If you would like assistance, you should notify MFT immediately who will get you in touch with Education Minnesota legal counsel. They will usually work with you 1:1 to follow up and provide a written response to the charges in the BOT letter. Do not ignore a BOT matter.
If you are not actively working, but applied for and have maintained a "Reserve Membership" from Education Minnesota since the time you were active, then you can receive legal services that way as well. Applications can be requested from MFT59 or Education Minnesota.