Minneapolis teachers picketed outside Justice Page Middle School during the first day of their strike March 8, 2022. Photo by Rilyn Eischens/Minnesota Reformer
About 150 teachers and 100 education support professionals reported to work during the first week of the Minneapolis Public Schools strike, according to the school district.
The teachers and staff crossing the picket line represent a small fraction of Minneapolis Public Schools’ workforce: fewer than 5% of the district’s 3,200 teachers and 8% of support professionals.
“We have over 90% of members on the line, and our members’ resolve for safe and stable schools grows every day,” the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers said in a statement to the Reformer.
Classes for 30,000 Minneapolis students have been canceled for seven days, as the district and union remain deadlocked in negotiations over wages and staffing levels. The district didn’t provide details about what the employees who report to work are doing while school isn’t in session.
Teachers and staff who participate in the strike aren’t allowed to use district-owned computers or other equipment, access their work email or set foot on district property. Striking employees don’t get paid or receive benefits like vacation time either; their insurance benefits will be discontinued if the strike continues into April.
By Wednesday morning, the union and district were still millions of dollars apart, according to proposal summaries published by the district. The union’s demands include raising minimum pay for support professionals from $24,000 to $35,000 and 11% raises for teachers.
During a media briefing Tuesday morning, Superintendent Ed Graff called the week of canceled classes “heartbreaking and disappointing.” The district is committed to reaching a deal and shares many of the union’s priorities, he said, but budget constraints are an obstacle.
“We do not have the finances to expand our contract proposal,” said school board member Kimberly Caprini. “We have been thinking creatively about ways we can compromise, but we have reached our financial limitations.”
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