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Students hold speak-out in support of Minneapolis educators

Students gathered in Dinkytown Saturday evening to show support for Minneapolis Public School educators who have been on strike since Mar. 8, 2022.
Image by Bella Carpentier
Around 40 University students gathered March 19 to show support for Minneapolis Public School educations and support staff on strike. The strike has been ongoing since March 8.

Students gathered Saturday evening to show support for the Minneapolis educators currently on strike.

The speak-out was hosted by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and co-sponsored by other University of Minnesota groups, including Students for Climate Justice, College Democrats Young Democratic Socialists of America. The protest, which had around 40 attendees, lasted over an hour.

The protesters gathered at the intersection of 15th Avenue SE and 4th Street SE across from the University Food Hall to support the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 (MFT) union’s strike.

“You can’t put students first if you are putting educators last,” Siobhan Moore, a member of SDS and former Minneapolis Public School (MPS) student, said.

MPS educators and support staff have been on strike since Mar. 8, 2022 after 13 months of negotiations.

“We need to empower educators to have a voice on the job,” David Gilbert-Pedersen, an organizer with AFSCME 3800, said. “When educators have a voice on the job, students get what they need.”

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) has outlined their bargaining priorities as livable wages for Education Support Professionals (ESP), improvements to the recruitment and retention of BIPOC educators, increased mental health supports, lowered class sizes and competitive compensation for licensed staff.

“It’s been 50 years since the last time our union went on strike,” Ana Vásquez, the second vice president of MFT, said. “We are finally standing up to say this is enough.”

According to SDS organizer Mira Altobell-Resendez, the protest is meant to recognize the MFT’s strike and how the worker’s rights movement intersects with SDS’s campus advocacy for police accountability, racial justice and environmental justice.

“They are all interconnected,” Altobell-Resendez said. “And so we could be remiss if we weren’t to be active in this fight as well.

Protesters held signs printed with the phrases “students for educators” and “MN workers united for educators.”

“Now I love the word solidarity, but I want to challenge us to go beyond that,” Olivia Crull, an organizer with SDS and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), said.

Some people walking past the protest voiced their support saying “we need teachers.” Later, a group leaving a sports event on a school bus stuck their heads and arms out the bus windows to wave and cheer at the group.

“Education is a right, that is why we have to fight,” chanted the group of protesters.

Marcy Open Elementary is a school close to campus on 4th Street SE where students can join educators on the picket lines, Altobell-Resendez said.

“I would love to see just more students from the U out at the picket lines,” Altobell-Resendez said. “If you have the time and the energy, please go support the educators right on the picket line. It means so much for them to see our faces out there.”

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