Speaking to striking Minneapolis educators on a picket line this morning, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten announced a $100,000 donation from the national union to the strike fund established by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. In the national fight to support public education, “you’re the front line right now,” Weingarten said.
MFT is seeking lower class sizes, higher wages — especially for the Educational Support Professionals — and increased mental health support and other supports for students.
“You’re asking for the things kids need to thrive and for you to do your jobs and live in Minneapolis,” Weingarten said. “It’s a righteous cause.”
“One day longer, one day stronger is not just a slogan,” she continued. “We’re giving your strike fund $100,000 right now.”
“This is how one utilizes the power of solidarity,” Weingarten said.
Weingarten addressed MFT members on the picket line outside Ella Baker school while standing on a frozen snowbank on the curb alongside Hennepin Ave., which one person told her was “a Minnesota podium.”
Weingarten emphasized that she wanted Minneapolis educators to know about the support from the AFT’s strike fund donation as they head into the weekend. The following Friday, March 25, looms as the first paycheck that striking Minneapolis educators would miss.
The American Federation of Teachers strike fund donation will be available quickly to provide additional support to MFT members, Shaun Laden, president of MFT’s Educational Support Professionals chapter, told the Minneapolis Labor Review.
Right now, MFT members can apply for grant for up to $500 to pay for mortgages, rent, or utilities, Laden said.
And, beginning March 28, Laden said MFT members reporting to picket lines each weekday will be able to receive either a $20 grocery store gift card, a $20 gas card, or a $20 transit card — totaling up to $100 per week.
In an update to MFT members posted on Facebook today, MFT announced that the local union’s strike fund now had more than $500,000 available after the addition of the American Federation of Teachers donation.
The day marked the ninth day that the Minneapolis Public Schools have been shut down, with Minneapolis teachers and Educational Support Professionals on strike since March 8.
Speaking to reporters outside Ella Baker school March 18, MFT president Greta Callahan provided an update on mediation sessions with the school district: “Last night was probably the most hopeful we’ve been in the last two weeks. The conversations we’ve been wanting to see happen have started to happen.”
MFT’s Shaun Laden told the group of MFT educators on the picket line: “Our message is that strikes work. We have said this [strike] is about systemic change and we are seeing it. So hold the line.”
Before all the announcements and updates, a strike captain asked people in the group of educators present to check in and share one word about how they were feeling — just as they ask the students at the start of each school day.
As passing cars honked their horns, one by one people in the gathered circle of educators shared:
And so on, around the circle.
In other measures of community support, MFT reported yesterday that 60 community groups have signed on as supporters of MFT’s strike goals.
In addition, MFT reported, nine of the 13 Minneapolis city council members have signed on as supporters, as well as three of nine Minneapolis park board members and both members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
MFT also reported that the city’s entire delegation to the Minnesota legislature — 15 lawmakers — also have signed on in support plus Fifth District US Representative Ilhan Omar and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
MFT picketing continues weekdays from 7:30-10:00 a.m. at school sites across the city, where MFT members welcome community members to join them.
Click here to donate to the MFT strike fund administered by Working Partnerships, the community services arm of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
For more information from MFT about the strike, including solidarity actions, visit www.safeandstableschools.org.