Thousands of Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers march in lead-up to strike
Minneapolis, MN – On February 12, thousands of teachers, education assistants (EAs) and education support professionals (ESPs), joined by parents and community members, marched in subzero weather to press the school districts meet their demands at the bargaining table. If the demands are not met, an open-ended strike across both of Minnesota’s largest school districts is expected.
Despite the frigid temperatures, spirits were high as several thousand marched along a 1.5 mile route starting at Minnehaha Falls park in Minneapolis and crossing the Mississippi River into Saint Paul in a show of unity between the educators of the two Twin Cities.
The educators in both school districts are fighting for a variety of demands including caps on class sizes, mental health support in schools, equity and racial justice in schools and pay increases. The schools’ districts have been fighting against those demands.
In Saint Paul the school district has takebacks on the table that would do away with class size caps and is offering only 1.5% in raises. The Saint Paul educators held a large strike in early 2020 on the eve of the global pandemic where they won the caps to class sizes that the school district is now attempting to strip from them only two years later.
In Minneapolis the ESPs are fighting for significantly increased pay to raise the floor for their pay. In Minneapolis schools, the ESPs make up the group with the most oppressed nationality workers, and they are in low-wage jobs, with the average ESP making around $30,000 a year in total compensation.
Both groups of educators are also fighting for proposals to attract and retain oppressed nationality workers and help them work their way up into licensed positions within their own schools to increase diversity and equity among the teachers in the schools. The school districts have shown themselves unwilling to move on these demands or on wages for the educators, so the workers now feel the only option is to go on strike.
Teachers from both cities, along with the education assistants of Saint Paul and education support professionals of Minneapolis will be taking strike votes in the coming week and are expected to announce an open-ended strike to begin in the first week of March. This may result in the closing of schools across both districts.