Labor United Educational League Statement on Minnesota Teachers

The poor working conditions of teachers in Minneapolis, Minnesota had degraded to a point where they were forced to take to the picket lines from March 7th – March 28, 2022.  Their issues were with class sizes, lack of decent wages, a call for better mental health support for students, and more inclusive hiring practices.  The strike ended with a tentative contract which has been highly regarded as a success by the rank and file of the MFT #59 (Minneapolis Federation of Teachers).  Not all of the issues that the teachers had were addressed though, and many of these issues were even exacerbated.  Class sizes have increased across the board from 1st grade all the way through high school with an approved class size increase of 6 students at the high school level.  This would mean that class sizes could be as large as 46 students trying to learn from 1 teacher in 12th grade.  Teachers will receive a 3% pay increase with some extracurricular and coaching staff receiving a 5% pay increase.  This still means that the starting salary of an average teacher is only $46,000 depending on their level of education with even the top earners starting at around $60,000.  This is not an adequate salary for those entrusted with the education of classrooms of these sizes.  It must also be addressed that there is an agreement stating that seniority will be ignored when the district demands layoffs.  This directive of the contract states that teachers of minority backgrounds will have immunity to layoffs, and these layoffs will then proceed up the ranks based on least seniority until a non-minority teacher is found.  While the union sees this as a victory, and their intentions are noble, the real issue that must be addressed is the of stopping the layoffs entirely.  Our teaching staff must be protected and expanded, and our districts need to provide the funding to allow our schools to be a place of growth and learning.  Packed classrooms and underpaid teachers do not provide the landscape for education that will enable students to grow to their full potential.  Our nation has always found a way to provide funding for wars, weapons, and incarceration; it is time for them to direct those funds to our children at home instead.  We at LUEL stand in solidarity with the teachers of MFT #59 and support their continued struggle for a better learning environment.