Home

About the MRLF

Community Services

Photo Gallery

Labor Review newspaper

Labor Review Archive Project

Calendar

Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation


 


 

 

Results of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers contract ratification votes were announced by Greta Callahan, president of the MFT teacher chapter (left) and Shaun Laden, president of the MFT Educational Support Professionals chapter (right). Photo by Brad Sigal.

Striking Minneapolis educators ratify agreements, school resumes tomorrow

March 28, 2022

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — Striking members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers voted over the weekend to ratify tentative agreements for new two-year contracts for teachers and for Educational Support Professionals, ending a strike that began March 8.

Under the terms of a negotiated return to work agreement, 4,500 teachers and ESPs returned to work today for a day of prep time before classes resume.

The Minneapolis Public Schools’ 28,500 students will return to classrooms tomorrow.

In voting results announced last night, the union reported:

• 76 percent of teachers voted to accept the tentative agreement for the teacher contract.

• 80 percent of ESPs voted to accept the tentative agreement for the ESP contract.

In a statement announcing the ratification votes, MFT said: “These historic agreements include significant wage increases for ESP and nation-leading protections for teachers of color, including exemptions from the excess and layoff process and more. In addition to improving our students’ learning conditions by adding more counselors, social workers, nurses, and specialists, this strike also helped set the conditions for significant change within MPS and how it approaches its work. Union leaders recognize that there is more work to do and this is just the beginning of turning around the Minneapolis Public Schools and are committed to continuing this work in the months and years to come.”

“We know we have historic wins,” said Greta Callahan, president of the MFT teacher chapter, in announcing the tentative agreements March 25. “We know we would not have been here without doing what we had to do.”

The 14-day strike was first strike by Minneapolis educators since a 20-day strike in 1970.

The strike began 19 days after MFT announced the results of a four-day strike authorization vote February 17, reporting that 97 percent of teachers voted to authorize a strike while 98 percent of ESPs voted to strike. The voter turnout was 96 percent for teachers and 93 percent for ESPs.

In addition to picketing at school sites each day of the strike, MFT members and supporters gathered for mass rallies and marches over the course of the strike, including a March 8 march to school district headquarters for a rally there, a March 9 rally at the state capitol, a March 10 march through downtown Minneapolis, and a March 18 rally outside the Governor’s mansion.

Midway through the strike, one teacher commented, “the camaraderie and energy at the rallies has been great… I love our young, diverse progressive MFT leaders — they’ve inspired us.”

“Our collective action for the past three weeks, and the support of our communities, have created the first lasting, enforceable guarantees about the size of classes our students will learn in as well as specific contract language around supporting and retaining educators of color,” Callahan said. “We have increased our mental health support teams. We will return to our schools on Monday more united with our students, our communities, and each other. That said, it is unacceptable that our district leaders kept students out of school for 14 days in order to add some of these critical supports for our students.”

“The collective action of our members has shown that strikes work,” said Shaun Laden, president of MFT’s Educational Support Professionals chapter, announcing the tentative agreement March 25. “The district started out saying ‘no, no, no, we will do business as usual.’”

“We made significant progress in a lot of our “Safe and Stable Schools” priorities,” Laden said. “We’ve proven we’re going to be doing things differently.”

Laden commented after the announcement of the vote on the tentative agreement: “ESP held the line for 14 days, and ESP won significant raises, more hours, improvements in benefits, and seniority rights for hundreds of ESP who didn’t have them. ESP will have more money in their pockets and our students will benefit from more stable schools.”

“One of our 20-plus-year veteran ESP told me this was the best contract she could remember,” Laden said. “[This] agreement will allow some educators to quit their second and third jobs, more educators will be able to afford to stay at Minneapolis Public Schools, and most importantly our students will have more stable schools.”

The strike drew national news media attention and strong support from teachers statewide and across the nation.

State and national union leaders saw historic gains in the strike’s outcome:

“Minneapolis educators marched through the rain, cold and snow because they believed their students deserved better – smaller classes, better access to mental health care and a stable workforce of educators making a living wage,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union representing 90,000 members. “The dedicated ESP, teachers and other licensed staff delivered. [These] contracts will be a lighthouse for educators all over Minnesota who demand more respect, more support for their students, and living and competitive wages for every educator.”

Becky Pringle, president of three-million member National Education Association, commented: “I am so proud of Minneapolis’s educators for banding together and winning for their students at the bargaining table. Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is an example for educators across the country of what happens when we use our collective voice to achieve a better future and real, lasting change for our students."

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million member American Federation of Teachers, said: “Minneapolis educators and ESPs fought one day longer, one day stronger, for the safe and stable public schools their students deserve. I am thrilled that this… agreement makes big strides that gets us closer to what we need to help kids recover and thrive. And I am grateful for the leadership of Greta Callahan and Shaun Laden and the solidarity of MFT’s membership who accomplished this feat during a trying two weeks for everyone. Standing together, they won class sizes caps, mental health supports for students, huge breakthroughs for ESPs on pay, and protections and support for educators of color at a time when many are leaving the profession.”

“We know coming out of this strike that our union is stronger,” said ESP chapter president Shaun Laden.

To make up for 15 days of lost class time, the school day will be extended by 42 minutes each day beginning April 11 and the school year will be extended from June 10 to June 24.

To read the full text of the tentative agreements, or for a summary of each agreement, visit the MFT website: https://www.mft59.org/tentative-agreement

MFT pickets at Justice Page Middle School

Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers began their first strike in 52 years, walking picket lines March 8, here at Justice Page Middle School.



In a massive show of solidarity on the first day of the strike, members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and supporters marched from Plymouth Ave. to the school district headquarters on Broadway Ave.

 

Related stories:

Striking Minneapolis educators reach tentative agreements with school district
(March 25, 2022)

Minneapolis educators begin strike, schools shut down
(March 9, 2022)

With strike votes coming, Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers and educators ralllied and marched together
(February 13, 2022)



Home Who We Are News Gallery Take Action Calendar
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
312 Central Ave., Suite 542, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: 612-379-4206 Fax: 612-379-1307
Have feedback or questions about this site? Contact the webmaster.