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Minneapolis Schools Closed for Tenth Day as Teachers Strike Over Wages and 'Mental Health Support'

Minneapolis Public Schools remained shut down for a tenth day as teachers continue to strike over wages, class sizes, and a lack of “mental health support.”

30,000 students in the district are being impacted by the strike.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and Education Support Professionals (ESP) unions began the strike on March 8, demanding a “living wage,” among other demands.

On Sunday, MPS shared a statement saying they had given the unions their “last, best, and final offer.”

The district said their proposal was already stretching them more than $10 million beyond their limits.

The website states that MPS has offered salary increases that:

  • Increase starting wages for 85% of current ESPs to $23 per hour or more, bringing most of our full-time ESPs close to $35,000 annually

  • Increase wages over two years between 8.2% and 34.6% (depending on job classification), with an average increase  of 15.6%

  • Advancement on the salary schedule (steps) for ESPs both years

  • Move our lowest paid ESPs from $15.45 per hour to $18.0 per hour

  • Pay ESPs $6,000 in bonuses ($3,000 in each of the next 2 years)

  • Are aligned with MFT, MPS and community value for liveable wages

Additionally, the proposal builds in an opportunity for increased work for ESPs with:

  • An investment of $3.5 million to additional hours for ESPs; and
  • Four additional paid duty days for professional development and collaboration

“MPS is reaching beyond its financial means on behalf of our ESPs and will need to make more than $10 million in reductions for the next school year as a result,” the website explained.

CNN reports, “in a video posted to the union’s Facebook page Sunday night, union officials said they want ESPs to have a minimum $35,000 annual salary. Teacher Chapter President Greta Callahan said the union ‘passed over a comprehensive proposal for settlement,’ but the district officials went home for the night and said they would talk again Monday.”

“We were ready to keep going all night. This contract needs to get settled. We want kids back in school and it feels like we are the only ones acting like that right now,” Callahan said.

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