MSCS teachers demand better working conditions, fair pay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens of teachers took the floor at a recent Memphis-Shelby County School Board meeting to demand better working conditions and the approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The MOU is being requested by two local teacher unions, the United Education Association of Shelby County (UEA) and the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA).

The organizations are requesting, on behalf of the teachers it serves, that the board move forward with the MOU process. Dozens of teachers took to the podium to request that the board consider the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act (PECCA), a law that allows teachers to negotiate work conditions with the board of education.

The last effective MOU expired in March 2018.

Back in October, UEA President Danette Stokes told FOX13 she believes teachers should make a six-figure salary, at least $100,000 per year. Although this specific request did not come up Tuesday night, education leaders were clear that they wanted the school board to get the ball rolling on the MOU agreement.

“There were three impasse items, for a portion of insurance to be paid, professional committee compilation, and a known public salary schedule,” said Jesse Jeff of MSCEA. “Now that these problems have been resolved, I respectfully ask the board and Superintendent Williams to approve our Memorandum of Understanding.”

As dozens of educators took their stand at the podium to state their cause, a UEA union member continued, “This Memorandum of Understanding is more than just a piece of paper. It commits us to close partnership in three key areas, strong public school educators, strong public school students, leading to a more globally competitive Memphis.”

MSCS Superintendent Toni Williams heard Tuesday night’s requests loud and clear, responding, “teacher compensation is a priority.”

Williams went on to say, “I think one thing is important to know as your superintendent, at this time I really understand the urgency, the financial processes and fiscal planning processes, but I most importantly understand outside of that, compensation and what our teachers deserve.”

Williams also told the audience that she’s already taken time to meet with both teachers’ unions more than four times, and has even drafted compensation proposals.

The MOU was initially on the agenda for approval by the board Tuesday; however, the motion was removed. It’s unclear when the discussion will resume.

In the meeting, Williams told both unions they have her unwavering support.