On the Picket Line

Teachers in Minnesota strike 3 days, demand more hiring

By Kevin Dwire
April 6, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Teachers ended a three-day strike March 13 that shut down public schools here, the first such walkout since 1946. The St. Paul Federation of Educators, with 3,600 members, picketed schools each morning and held spirited rallies and marches throughout the city every afternoon. 

“We need more interpreters, more mental health support and more staff for special education students,” high school teacher Peter See told the Militant  at a rally March 10 on first day of the strike. “And every school needs a nurse.” 

Jason Bresette, a middle school teacher, said, “Most teachers work 60 to 80 hours per week. Our students have so many needs, they need more adult support.” 

The school district has not released details of a proposed two-year settlement, and a date hasn’t been set for teachers to vote on the contract. Federation President Nick Faber told the Pioneer Press  that the union was concerned the district would use the coronavirus outbreak against the teachers. 

“Some of the largest gatherings in St. Paul this week have been the daily rallies of striking teachers,” the paper said, while government officials have called for an end to public events and protests amid panic over the virus.

We didn’t want to put ourselves in a position where strikers were “quarantined out,” Faber said, “without pay and without leverage, as well.”