Minneapolis schools, union reach tentative deal to end strike

The strike started March 8 with the union seeking "a living wage" for ESPs, smaller class sizes, and "safe and stable schools."

Minneapolis teachers and supporters march during a strike earlier this year. (American Federation of Teachers/Twitter)

(The Center Square) — More than 29,000 Minneapolis students might return to school Monday after 14 days of canceled classes because of striking teachers.

The union and school say it struck a tentative deal, the terms of which won’t be released until after the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals ratify the contract, Minneapolis Public Schools media coordinator Crystina Lugo-Beach told The Center Square in an email.

MFT hasn’t responded to a request for comment about the meeting time. In a statement, MFT said the strike will end if ratified.

“These historic agreements contain important wins for our students and the safe and stable schools they deserve,” MFT tweeted. “These deals are what 4,500 MFT members went on strike for. Details will be coming out shortly, but it is important to note that major gains were made on pay for [ESPs], protection for educators of color, class size caps and mental health supports.”

MPS Superintendent Ed Graff welcomed the deal.

“MPS is extremely pleased to welcome students back to school on Monday, March 28, pending an MFT membership vote,” Graff said in a statement. “MPS and MFT reached a tentative contract agreement for our teachers and educational support professionals, ending the strike.”

The strike started March 8 with the MFT and ESP seeking “a living wage” for ESPs, smaller class sizes, and “safe and stable schools,” the union posted on Facebook.

Last week, MPS made its “final offer” that included: 2% cost of living increases, with up to 12% raises for new teachers, in year one of the contract and 2% increases for all in the second year.

The new contract terms are unclear.

“This has been a life-changing experience for all of us,” Graff said in a statement. “Through it all, we have seen the power and passion of our community, the commitment of our staff and the intense need to focus on our students. I believe MPS and MFT have arrived at a fair and equitable agreement that honors the requests and needs of our staff.”

MPS said instructional time lost during the strike may be made up by:

  • Using record-keeping days as student contact days (record-keeping would be moved).
  • Adding minutes to the school day.
  • Extending the end of the school year.

Graduation ceremony dates are not impacted and will go forward as planned.

“We all know that teachers and ESPs are an important part of what make our schools the learning sites on which our students and families rely,” Graff said. “I’m extremely grateful for their work, determination and dedication. I am equally grateful to families and community organizations who supported their students through enormous difficulties during this time out of school. Thank you. I look forward to seeing everyone back in our schools supporting our students on Monday.”

The state’s education funding formula is based on enrollment, which has declined at MPS from 32,732 to 29,100 between 2019 and 2022.

MPS said all pre-K through 12th classes would be canceled “for the duration of the strike.”

Axios reported that the district is facing a a $21.5 million budget deficit for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.


Scott McClallen

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.