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Minneapolis teachers, district back at the bargaining table

As of Tuesday, students in Minneapolis Public Schools have been out of the classroom for a full week as the union and district continue contract negotiations.
Credit: KARE 11

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and district mediators remain deadlocked as the city's first educator strike in more than 50 years continued Tuesday.

For the last week teachers have been picketing at Minneapolis Public Schools locations across the city while union and district representatives negotiate terms of a new contract.

As of March 15, the two sides have yet to reach a deal. MPS and MFT bargaining teams are scheduled to meet again from noon to 6 p.m.

In a show of support for striking teachers, students marched from North High School to the MPS Davis Center for a sit-in Tuesday morning. Part of the sit-in will include a nine second moment of silence in honor of Deshaun Hill, the 15-year-old star student athlete who was shot and killed in north Minneapolis last month.

Over the weekend, Minneapolis Public Schools negotiators offered a proposal that includes education support professional (ESP) wage increases, teacher wage increases, a class size proposal in contract language, mental health support funding, modified language to the MFT Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism proposal and initiatives to recruit and retain a diverse staff. Read more about that proposal here.

The union countered with a proposal Saturday that the district claimed would "steer the district toward long-term financial crisis."

In a recorded update posted Sunday night, MPS Board of Education Treasurer Kimberly Caprini said although the district's current proposal doesn't reach all of the union's demands, they have reached their financial limit.

If this proposal is accepted, "we will have to make other drastic cuts unless the state provides additional funding in the next two years," Caprini said.

The union's 2021-2013 collective bargaining priorities include:

  • Stronger mental health support
  • Affordable, quality health care
  • Competitive pay
  • COVID safety protocols and staffing
  • Smaller class sizes and caseloads
  • Support to retain educators of color

Tuesday morning, MFT President Greta Callahan said she hopes to get a counterproposal from the district, and also wants to see the district superintendent and school board members more involved with negotiations.

"Quite frankly, it looks like they don't have a plan, but we do," Callahan said of the MPS bargaining team. "We're not backing down."

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