Teachers union leaders and city officials reached an agreement to halt a three-week strike over poor pay; a lack of diversity among teachers, big class sizes, and student mental health issues on Tuesday. Students are back in school throughout Minneapolis. In more than a half-century, the city’s first labor conflict kept roughly 30,000 students out of school for 14 days.
Students On A Three Week Strike
“We recognize that this three-week strike is historic in terms of how long we were out. Also, the unity of our chapters,” Minnesota Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan said. “We shouldn’t have had to go on strike to get any of these things for our pupils. But we did, and now everyone can see it. We’re thrilled,” she continued, “but we know it’s not enough. While this does not create the schools our students deserve, it is a step in the right direction.”
Over the weekend, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and a chapter of education support professionals signed a new contract and return-to-work plan.
The deal raises education support employees’ starting salary from $19.83 to $24 per hour; bringing annual starting pay from $24,000 to almost $35,000, plus a one-time $6,000 incentive. This year, the new teacher’s contract includes a 2% basic wage increase; which will be retrospectively applied, a 3% boost in 2023, and a one-time $4,000 incentive. The negotiated agreement also contains layoff protections for newly recruited educators of color; who, under the so-called “last in, first out” approach, would be the first to lose their positions if the school system had to make workforce cuts.
Three-Week Strike Finally Comes To An End
The school year has been extended from June 10 to June 24 due to the three-week strike; and the school day will run 42 minutes longer beginning on April 11 to make up even more time. In a statement, Minneapolis school Superintendent Ed Graff said, “Nothing is more vital to the MPS community right now than restoring our children to their classrooms.”
As the labor dispute ends, school districts across the country are grappling with disruptions caused by a shrinking pool of educators and school staff – some lured away by companies like Amazon that offer better pay and benefits. Others are forced to retire early or resign due to the pandemic’s stressors in K-12 schools.