Minneapolis Schools Return After Three-Week Teacher Strike

Alexa Martin, staff writer

Photo featuring teachers Cecily Spano(left) and Alex Hoselton(right) during the Minneapolis teacher strike taken by Ani Cassellius on Mar. 14

Beginning on March 8, the Union that represents Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers went on strike. The strike lasted over a two-week period and ended on March 25. This left more than 29,000 students with no classes to attend, while many of their teachers were out working the picket lines. 

Leading up to the strike, multiple issues regarding teacher pay and treatment had been coming to the forefront during the time of the pandemic. One of the major issues being that of both teachers and Educational Support Professionals (ESP) underpayment. There were also issues regarding high class sizes and not having support staff such as nurses, social workers and mental health professionals. This strike was calling for better support for both the teachers and the students of Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

“It is hard to put into words what I think about all of this,” said Joren Lamaire, a secondary education student. “It is good to see teachers advocating for themselves, it’s just sad that it got to the point where they have to go on strike.” 

“I just can’t stop thinking about the students that are missing school, first the pandemic and now this,” said Augsburg elementary education major Myia Sarff. “It is hard to think about how this is affecting them as well as their teachers.”

Though the Union was not able to get exactly what they wanted in regards to their reasons for striking, an agreement was eventually reached with a majority vote from the union. “The district and union proposed the new contract together and reached a tentative agreement on Friday. After the announcement of the tentative agreement, the school district called all the parents and told them there was school on Monday, when the Union hadn’t reached a vote on the agreement yet.” Cassellius explained. “The Union then had to scramble to make a vote over the weekend before school on Monday, but they did reach an agreement on Sunday and then the teachers went back Monday, students came back on Tuesday.”

Despite ending the strike, this story is far from over. According to the Sahan Journal, on March 29, District Superintendent Ed Graff declined his third contract and will be leaving the district in June 2022. This came up to the public on March 30, days after the strike had come to a conclusion. That being said, it has been stated that the school year may be longer than it was originally planned as school could be in session all the way until June to supplement the lost class time. 

Many Augsburg students and educators joined the Twin Cities teachers on the front lines. “It was so extremely interesting and empowering to be there, because we were not in a classroom setting, were [sic] out dancing and singing in the street for almost three weeks,” said Augsburg senior and student teacher Ani Cassellius. “It was community building and allowed us teachers to get to know one another. […] A lot of the other teachers were saying that this is the closest they have felt to their coworkers, and it was just fun to be advocating for ourselves which is what we’ve been trying to do for years.”