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Commentary
MFT strike empowered us all

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, April 23, 2022

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

Over the past month, Minneapolis collectively participated in a historic effort to change the way we approach education in our community. Sparked by decades of disinvestment, educators finally said enough was enough when it came to the well-being of our educators, students and our broader communities — and went on strike.

While only three of these last few weeks saw educators and students out of the classroom, the efforts for systemic change have stretched much further.

As a result of the historic three-week strike, the conversation has shifted from just listing what resources our educators “might need” or “maybe want” or “would like to have” to a full-blown HOW will they get what we all know our schools so desperately need.

Brave educators were able to do more for the future trajectory of Minneapolis schools in three weeks than any think tank, foundation, policy group or elected body has accomplished in years. The real experts are in the classroom and in the school buildings. It took the monumental step of striking for their voices to be heard.

And it wasn’t just our educators taking action — this wasn’t just a teacher strike, but more of a community strike in a sense. All of the different communities that make up Minneapolis rallied around each other to support our striking educators and to support our families with students in the district.

Brave educators were able to do more for the future trajectory of Minneapolis schools in three weeks than any think tank, foundation, policy group or elected body has accomplished in years.

We ALL had to be brave to face the realities of what our schools collectively need, not just the striking members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Professionals.

Across the labor movement and across the broader community, you stepped up. Local unions and hundreds of individuals donated money, time, resources and food when it was needed most. Many people made calls to decision makers, checked on their neighbors and helped out with childcare throughout the work stoppage.

And, together, we all helped advance an agenda for our Minneapolis public schools that will ensure success for our communities: living wages for ESPs, more mental health supports, smaller class sizes, support for educators of color. These wins are just the start of the broader demand for justice in our education system.

The MFT strike is energizing and empowering other groups of workers who are realizing their own full potential to change the trajectory of their workplace or even their industry.

As MFT showed us, nothing is impossible when we put our collective power together.

 

Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou was re-elected December 11, 2019 to a second four-year term as president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or chelsie@minneapolisunions.org.

 



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