Classes canceled at Minneapolis Public Schools Tuesday, strike begins

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Teachers in Minneapolis are striking Tuesday, meaning classes are cancelled at Minneapolis Public Schools until a contract between the union and district is agreed to.

Teachers in the district are expected to picket Tuesday morning now that contract talks have broken down – the first time they will do so in 50 years.

Monday night, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers walked away from the negotiation table around 6 p.m. to say the strike will happen.

RELATED: Minneapolis teachers to strike Tuesday; St. Paul educators, district reach deal

The president of the union says the district won’t bend on their demands, which include upping starting salaries for support to $35,000, increasing wages for teachers and decreasing class sizes. In addition, the union says they would also like to see more mental health support resources.

Despite negotiating for weeks – including more than 65 hours last week – the district and union leaders couldn’t find common ground.

“Those of us that are here on the ground floor are here to say our kids deserve better,” said Greta Callahan, President of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.

“When we’re short folks, that means our students go without and we can’t accept what has been offered to us on the table when we know that is only going to perpetuate what is happening right now,” adds Shaun Laden, President of the MFT 59 ESP Chapter.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers held a news conference as picketing began at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. You can watch that full news conference in the video player at the top of this article.

Minneapolis school administration issued a statement after the strike was announced Monday, saying it’s disappointing, but that they both share the same priorities and commitment to their students, and that they will continue to negotiate in hopes to keep the strike as short as possible.

Parents are also weighing in as the strike begins.

“Our kids need to be in school, they want to be in school, they need to be in school learning, and we need you to do your jobs teachers, teachers unions and we need you to do them better,” said parent Rashad Turner, President of the Minnesota Parent Union. The union says teachers should be in class focusing on achievement results for students – numbers say they were poor even before COVID-19.

The Parent Union argues the strike is poorly times after two years of being in and out of classes due to the pandemic.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with a teacher on a Facebook live as picketing started Tuesday – you can watch that video above.

According to the Minneapolis school District, there will be limited childcare for elementary age kids starting Wednesday, but the capacity is based on staffing, and will vary from school to school.

RELATED: Minneapolis parents weight child care options during teacher strike

Other childcare options include:

  • 10 of the city’s 37 Rec Centers will be open from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Each location will be able to take on about 35 kids ages K-8th Grade. Although the service is free, registration is already filling up.
  • YMCA locations in Minneapolis will offer all-day programming from :30 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day for kids impacted by the strikes. The costs range from $12-$45 depending on the location.
  • The Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities is waiving annual membership fees for all new members during the strike. It is open each day from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

RELATED: Minneapolis ‘hub sites’ offering extended hours, activities in event of teacher strike

Meanwhile, St. Paul schools will be open Tuesday after the district and teachers reached a new contract agreement Monday night. Their union says the new, two-year contracts include language for smaller classes, more mental health support and increased pay. Those union members will have to vote on whether to accept this agreement.

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