MINNEAPOLIS — Striking teachers and educational support staff have been picketing schools every morning and holding rallies several times a week since walking out March 8. Some 4,500 members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 are fighting for an increase in starting pay for support workers, wage hikes for teachers, for hiring more mental health workers and more teachers to reduce class sizes.
Hundreds rallied at City Hall in downtown Minneapolis March 16 and outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul March 18. “A big issue for me is the need for smaller class sizes,” Steve Gehrenbeck-Miller, a Spanish teacher at Southern High School, told the Militant in St. Paul. “My classes average 40 students.”
“Teachers and staff shouldn’t have to work two jobs to make a living,” said his daughter, Julia, a recent high school graduate.
Katie Pearson teaches 4th and 5th grade at Sullivan STEAM School in Minneapolis. “The big thing for me is mental health,” she told Gabrielle Prosser, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Minnesota governor, at the City Hall action. “There is one mental health worker in a school of a thousand.”
“The strike resonates with thousands of workers throughout the state,” Prosser said. “It is an inspiration to all of us as bosses’ attacks on the job conditions continue. Despite the real hardship the strike has on working families, the overwhelming majority support your fight.”