Lakeville teachers file intent to strike after stalled negotiations

Lakeville teachers rallying.  (FOX 9)

Lakeville teachers announced on Tuesday they filed their intention to strike, as negotiations with Lakeville Area Public Schools have stalled. 

The teachers union, Education Minnesota Lakeville, voted to authorize a strike late last week. They are required to give a 10-day notice, and now the earliest Lakeville teachers could strike is May 10. 

"Lakeville teachers have made it clear — we’re ready to strike for what we need for the first time ever," said Johannah Surma, lead negotiator and an English Language teacher at Oak Hills and Orchard Lake elementary schools. "The school board has the power to avert a strike. We’re looking for a swift and fair agreement with needed raises - without forced transfer language — so we can continue to work our essential jobs with full faith in our district." 

Lakeville's teachers are seeking a wage increase and more affordable healthcare and benefits. The union said they are also fighting against the district's "right of assignment" proposal, which would allow teachers to be transferred between subject areas, buildings, and grade levels.  

"Lakeville is a growing district with more student needs than ever. For an excellent education for our students, we need to recruit and retain excellent educators," said Carrie Popp, president of Education Minnesota Lakeville. "We need a competitive raise that reflects the increase to the district budget. We don’t take the decision to strike lightly. Our teachers love our students, our schools and our community, and because of that, we’re fighting for what’s best for our future. The district needs to come to the table with a fair offer, without language that would allow them to transfer teachers at will."  

The union said a rally is being held outside the Lakeville district office on Tuesday evening before providing public comment at the school board meeting. 

The next mediation session is scheduled for May 6, just days before teachers could walk out, although the union said they have asked for an earlier date. 

FOX 9 has reached out to Lakeville Area Public Schools for comment.