Labor tensions--and procrastination-- in Minnesota

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Tired of its school districts slow pace in negotiating new teacher contracts, the Minnesota state legislature has imposed a deadline for districts to get the job done. Still 17 of the state's 346 school districts missed the deadline--though 16 of them ended up approving the contract the following day. And another 147 districts skirted the deadline (and avoided the $25 per student penalty) because they admitted they were at an impasse and requested outside mediation to help smooth over tense negotiations.

According to state union president Tom Dooher, many more contracts would still be unsettled if not for the state imposed due date. The last two times the state imposed a deadline for negotiations to be complete 11 districts (2005) and 5 districts (2001) missed the deadline.

Compared to other districts across the country Minnesota school districts are looking pretty good. Prince Georges County in Maryland still has not finalized its contract negotiations for an agreement that expired last June. And Cleveland just finalized its new agreement that came 4 years after the previous one expired in 2003.