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Minnesota State, faculty union agree on new contract

Derek Webb

ST. PAUL—Negotiators from the Inter Faculty Organization, which represents hundreds of professors at universities and technical campuses across the state, and Minnesota State tentatively agreed to a new contract late Saturday evening, union officials said.

The agreement stipulates a 1.6 percent salary increase for union faculty this school year, retroactive to July 1, a 2.4 percent pay bump in 2018-19, and improvements to employees' health and dental benefits. It moves up professors' "career steps," which means they get scheduled raises sooner, and calls for hundreds of thousands of dollars for more professional development next year.

"The faculty believes this is good for students because it lets the university recruit and retain the best faculty possible," said Derek Webb, a Bemidji State University professor and president of its faculty association.

The agreement also would allow adjunct professors to teach two more credits per academic year, which means they can teach more and get paid more, Webb said.

"We made a concerted effort to negotiate better benefits for contingency faculty," Webb said. Union leaders will meet with rank-and-file members at campuses throughout the state to review the tentative agreement once the spring semester begins.

Union members and management are both expected to vote to ratify the agreement in early 2018. The state government also needs to approve the deal, which means the agreement has to wind its way through the Minnesota Legislature this spring.

"Our union understands that we're all connected, union or not, and what happens to one of us happens to all of us," Jim Grabowska, the union president, said in a press release on Monday. "We believe this agreement helps advance the cause of our faculty, our students, and all working people in our state."

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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