For Immediate Release
March 7, 2022

Contact:
Natasha Dockter
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and
Education Support Professionals
natasha.dockter@gmail.com
651-387-5681


Minneapolis educators to strike Tuesday for safe and stable schools

MINNEAPOLIS, March 7, 2022 – The educators of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals will go on strike Tuesday for the safe and stable schools students deserve. Despite days in public bargaining and mediations, including more than 65 hours in the last week, the district continues to refuse to work with MFT to create systemic change and remains entrenched in the unacceptable status quo. 
 
President Greta Callahan of the MFT teachers chapter, President Shaun Laden of the MFT ESP chapter and the presidents of Education Minnesota, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association will attend a news conference at 7:30 a.m. Tuesdayoutside Justice Page Middle School, 1W. 49th S., Minneapolis.
 
The members of the MFT will begin picketing outside their schools and other worksites at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The membership will come together for a large rally at 12:15 p.m. at the Minneapolis Public Schools Nutrition Center, 812 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis, before marching approximately 1 mile to the MPS Davis Center, 1250 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis.
 
Logistics:
Picketing begins at schools and other worksites at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday
News conference with MFT presidents and state and national presidents 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Justice Page Middle School, 1W. 49th S., Minneapolis
Rally starting at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at Minneapolis Public Schools Nutrition Center, 812 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis
Laden said:  “This bargaining campaign started with the very simple idea that for the education support professionals who are told every day that our schools can’t run without us, one job should be enough. We’re the most racially diverse group of educators in a district with administrators who say they care about racial equity. We have been demanding that the administrators at the bargaining table put their money where their mouth is and they have refused. Now is the time for the school board to intervene and settle a deal that pays ESP a starting wage of $35,000 a year.”
 
Callahan said: “For almost two years, we’ve been trying to reach agreements around safe and stable schools for students and those closest to them, but the administration has stubbornly defended an unacceptable status quo. We are the defenders of public education and we’re not going to slow down, or give up, until we make real progress addressing the mental health crisis in our schools, reducing class sizes and caseloads so students are receiving the individualized attention they need, and increasing educator compensation so that we don’t continue to lose staff, especially educators of color, to surrounding districts and other professions.”
 
Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said: “Nearly 90,000 educators across Minnesota are standing with our union family in Minneapolis because what they’re fighting for is what we’re all fighting for: Schools that will give every student the chance to pursue their dreams. The same issues are being negotiated all over the state, from living wages for ESPs, to more mental health supports for students, to managing the crushing caseload for SpEd teachers, to recruiting and retaining more teachers of color,  to creating time for educators to give their students enough individual attention. We’re in a rich state with a $9.25 billion surplus. No educator should have to fight this hard for the schools our students deserve, but if that’s what it takes, we’re with you.”
 
Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, said: “With over $250 million in pandemic relief funds, the time is now to invest in the safe and stable schools that Minneapolis students need now more than ever. The three million members of the National Education Association are proud to stand with our siblings in Minneapolis. The last two years have demonstrated that the status quo is not good enough. Minneapolis students and their families have weathered a pandemic, continued police violence, and an economic system that has left students, their families, and educators behind. These students deserve class sizes small enough for one-to-one attention as well as investments in mental health services and social-emotional learning.  MPS must also invest in systematic changes that improve the recruitment and retention of educators of color as well as a living wage for education support professionals. Education support professionals represent a critical workforce in our schools providing essential supports students depend on. MPS has the resources to make these investments. The question is whether they value Minneapolis students as much as their educators do.”
 
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said: “The federal government has provided an unprecedented amount of recovery funding to school districts to address problems related to the pandemic, including student recovery, staff shortages and school safety. There is no excuse for districts to make cuts in light of this historic infusion of funds. And the economy is showing real signs of growth. Indeed, Minnesota just announced a $9.25 billion surplus.
 
“Our kids, their families and educators have been through tremendous challenges in the last two years; they have done their share to navigate the rough seas together. Educators and students should be the priorities, and districts should provide the conditions and environment they need to succeed. School districts should respect their educators and ensure that students have the programs and services they need to thrive,” Weingarten said.
 
The union’s safe and stable schools agenda includes:

  • Paying a living wage for education support professionals to stabilize this critical workforce, because students need the stability of working with one paraprofessional throughout the school year. For ESPs, this means raising the starting salary from about $24,000 a year to $35,000 through increases in hours and rate of pay.
  • Making systemic changes to improve the recruitment and retention of educators of color, which benefits all of MPS.
  • Improving student-to-mental health professional ratios because students shouldn’t have to wait weeks for an appointment with a counselor or social worker.
  • Lowering class sizes because students learn best when their classrooms aren’t overcrowded and underfunded.
  • Paying competitive salaries for licensed staff to stop the exodus of teachers from MPS. State data show the average salary of Minneapolis teachers is ranked 28 out of 46 districts in the seven-county metro area.

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