Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Many Minneapolis Teachers and Educational Support Are Dissatisfied with Tentative Agreement

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and the Educational Support Professional (ESP) chapter reached a tentative agreement that the rank and file has to frantically vote over this weekend.

Luigi Morris

March 27, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
Surrounded by striking workers holding up picket signs, a person in the center is wearing a bright blue beanie and MFT scarf and a bright yellow vest on top of a black undershirt and black pants.

The strike that began on March 8 has been a strong indictment of the defunding of public education. Building upon the 2018 and 2019 teacher strikes, while the Minneapolis strike is in a state of flux, Sacramento teachers have begun their strike in California. The struggle in Minneapolis is part of a larger process across the United States. The spirit for revolution is particularly high in Minneapolis, as residents still feel the effects of the uprising in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

On Friday, both the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and the chapter representing Educational Support Professionals (ESP) reached a tentative agreement (TA) that, despite its presentation as a “historic” achievement, broad sectors of teachers and educational support staff are dissatisfied with. Frustration is not only limited to the result of the negotiations, but also comprises how the tentative agreement was presented. One of the main questions going around if there is forces to fight for more or not.

Some of the main shortcomings of the TA include: 

The agreement became available last night, the vote began this morning, and they are calling teachers and staff back to school this Monday to be ready to start classes on Tuesday. This puts more than 4000 education workers up against the wall to make an important decision that will affect the entire Minneapolis community. 

This pressure goes against the democratic right to have a sufficient amount of time to discuss the pros and cons of the agreement, assess how the frontliners would handle a continued strike, and discuss a plan to continue the fight in each school. 

The negotiations took place behind closed doors, and there was no structure in place for teachers and educational support staff to get involved in the process. It was not until the last days that membership could get a better sense of the status of negotiation. And now, the vote is being hurried without time for due consideration, further complicating the process and making it more of a rush job.

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), with superintendent Ed Graff who makes $225,000 a year and Eric Moore at the helm, want to rush the workers’ decision. They have done everything possible to delay bargaining, including not showing up in person for several meetings. The conscious decision to drag out bargaining is intended to kill time until the workers are forced to vote on a deal feeling pressured and strangled by their economic situation, with the particularly cruel threat of getting rid of workers’ health insurance hanging over their heads.

This goes beyond MPS. Mayor Jacob Frey and Governor Tim Walz (both Democrats) have turned their backs on the thousands of teachers who have mobilized day after day in the schools and around Minneapolis in freezing temperatures. The union has consistently pointed out the budget surplus in Minnesota, and the state didn’t hesitate to make big concessions to the Minneapolis Police Department, including a starting salary of $74,000/yr with a $7,000 signing bonus. In contrast, ESPs under this tentative agreement still would not achieve a meager $35K per year. 

One of the main concerns is the actual economic situation of the many workers who live paycheck to paycheck. No strike should be defeated for lack of money. On the one hand, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) should donate much more money to this strike, as the AFT is worth over 500 million dollars, and has millions already set aside for strike funds. Beyond funding the strike, the AFT must call upon its 1.7 million members to participate in solidarity actions nationwide. There should be solidarity actions all over the country— from wearing blue to show solidarity with Minneapolis teachers to street mobilizations. The same goes for other unions representing millions of workers. On the other hand, union rank and file members, community organizations, and socialist organizations need to multiply our efforts to contribute to their strike fund and nationalize their struggle if this continues. The outcome of this strike could be a source of inspiration for teachers across the country.  

These almost three weeks of daily experience on the picket lines in front of the schools must inform the leadership of the struggle. The structures put in place by each school, such as electing their own strike captains, provide an already functioning network that should be having daily meetings to discuss the problems and make decisions as a group. Right now, multiple meetings via Zoom and chat rooms are happening to discuss the TA. These channels could also serve as a base to build links and relationships to continue the struggle. 

If the contract is voted down, the strike has potential to become a larger phenomenon. For that, it needs to be organized in community with other unions demanding the AFT to push for a national campaign. The rank and file should discuss a plan to continue the struggle. Making the strike fund a top priority, coordinating with other unions and workers to organize strikes and solidarity actions, democratizing the bargaining process, building community networks, and continuing to target the political machine responsible for the defunding of public education are all key to continuing the fight that has started in Minneapolis.

Facebook Twitter Share

Luigi Morris

Luigi Morris is a member of Left Voice, freelance photographer and socialist journalist.

Twitter Instagram

Labor Movement

Why Won’t PSC-CUNY Stand with Palestine Now?

While other higher education unions are going on strike in defense of their workers and against the genocide in Gaza, the bureaucratic leadership of PSC-CUNY just crushed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel and to drop the charges against Palestinian activists arrested on April 30. 

James Dennis Hoff

May 24, 2024
A sign for the University of California at Santa Cruz with a line of UAW signs in front of it

Dispatch from Day One of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line for Palestine

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia traveled to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers. This is her dispatch from the first day of the strike.

Olivia Wood

May 22, 2024
Signs and banners at the picket line in front of the UC Santa Cruz in May, 2024. UC student workers are beginning a historic strike for Palestine, against genocide.

University of California Student Workers Begin Historic Political Strike against Repression and Genocide

This week, student and postdoctoral workers at the University of California began a historic strike in response to the brutal, violent repression of students, faculty, and staff protesting for Palestine. The action marks an important escalation of the labor movement’s struggle in defense of Palestine and the right to protest.

Olivia Wood

May 21, 2024
A rally in Brooklyn, people hold up UAW signs

University of California Academic Workers Authorize Strike to Defend the Right to Protest

48,000 workers are one step closer to going on strike to demand that charges and academic sanctions be dropped for the students and faculty who protest the genocide in Palestine and UC’s financial and academic ties to Israel.

Madeleine Freeman

May 16, 2024

MOST RECENT

Attack on Pro-Palestinian Protestors at UMich Latest Example of Democrats Defending Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Capitalist apologists from the Democratic Party have chosen their business partners in Israel’s far-right government over Palestinian lives. In Ann Arbor, those same so-called “progressive” Democrats decided to bring felony charges against protestors earlier this week, encouraging harsh police violence against the University of Michigan encampment.

Ryan McCarty

May 24, 2024
Activists in Detroit speaking at a press conference condemning repression of the pro-Palestine movement on May 20, 2024.

Detroit Activists Hold Press Conference to Condemn Repression of Pro-Palestine Protesters

Detroit Will Breathe organized a press conference to discuss the police violence and repression against pro-Palestine protesters. The movement must stand in solidarity and unite to combat the increase of repression.

Kyle Thibodeau

May 23, 2024

CUNY Workers Should Support the Five Demands of the Student Encampment

As the PSC CUNY Delegate Assembly prepares to debate a vote to endorse the five demands of the CCNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment, some members of CUNY on Strike penned the following rebuttal to the bureaucratic union leadership that has been trying to distance itself from the struggle against the genocide in Gaza. 

A Russian tank fires toward Kharkiv on the May 10 offensive against Ukraine.

Russia’s Offensive in Ukraine May Be a Turning Point in the War

Russia’s May 10 offensive in Ukraine may be a turning point in the dynamics of the war, and the specter of Ukraine’s defeat is exposing the cracks that divide the Western powers.

Claudia Cinatti

May 21, 2024