by Judah Torgerud
Minnesota Teachers in Saint Paul were on strike from March 10th to March 13th. They announced their intentions beforehand to both warn parents to find childcare and for their children and to pressure the Saint Paul school district into signing a new contract.
The teachers were protesting for: more multilingual interpreters, more special education funds, more services for students with mental health problems, racial equity, and raises for teachers in addition to the ones they already receive. Over 3,600 members of the union went on strike.
Many of the union teachers picketed while dressed in red for “Red for Ed”, and held signs that said, “STRIKE For the Schools St. Paul Children Deserve.” Minnesotan Democrat State senators Jason Isaacson and Erik Simonson were also in attendance.
During the first negotiations with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), the teachers demanded over 12 million dollars to fund wage increases. The SPPS said, “To avoid a strike, the district offered a commitment to fund a significant number of positions identified in SPFE proposals. SPFE countered that it simply was not enough.”
The parties have now come to a tentative agreement and schools will be open again on Monday, though educators returned to school on Friday at 1:00 PM. This happened after SPPS informed teaching assistants that they would be laid off on the 24th if their strike continued. SPFE claims that the agreement has provisions for most of what they wanted, including wage increases, an increase in the number of nurses, social workers, psychologists, and multilingual staff. SPFE still says that there is work going to be done against the “school-to-prison pipeline”.
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Photo “Saint Paul Teacher Strike” by Saint Paul Federation of Educators.