On Tuesday May 24, over 500 mental health workers will walk off the jobs at three hospitals in the Minneapolis metro area. The striking groups include mental health coordinators and psych techs, along with other job classes that perform mental health work. All three of the groups have organized and joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa (SEIU HCMNIA) in the last eight months and are fighting for their first contract. They work at Allina Health’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Allina Health’s Unity Hospital in the Twin Cities suburb of Fridley, and MHealth Fairview Riverside Hospital in Minneapolis. While they work for three different hospitals, each with their own separate contract negotiations, the mental health workers are coordinating across the three locations and two health systems as they see the fight for a first contract with real improvements to working conditions and for safety in their jobs as a shared fight throughout the hospital industry.
In the past few weeks, a number of water protectors have seen criminal cases dismissed by prosecutors in so-called Northern Minnesota for alleged actions taken to stop the Line 3 pipeline in defense of the water, the climate, and the treaty rights of the Anishinaabeg people. Violating Anishinaabe treaty territories in Minnesota, the new stretch of Line 3 was approved without full consent or proper impact studies, threatening safe water sources for millions. It carries the carbon equivalent of 50 coal plants. More than 68,000 Minnesotans testified against this plan. Over 1,000 arrests were made during the nine months of construction. These individuals put their bodies on the line to stop Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline, a massive tar sands project that threatens the state’s lakes, rivers, aquifers and wild rice beds.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - Two months after Minneapolis Police officer Mark Hanneman killed Amir Locke, 22, while executing a no-knock warrant, prosecutors say they won’t be charging Hanneman with a crime. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison released a 44-page joint report on April 6 explaining their decision in the case. Also released was a report by retired police officer John “Jack” Ryan. Locke was killed by Hanneman, who was part of a SWAT unit serving a pre-dawn no-knock warrant on February 2, 2022. Locke, a registered gun owner, was sleeping in a blanket on his cousin’s couch before being awakened by a SWAT unit at 6:48 a.m. after they entered the apartment with a key.
As Minneapolis teachers are nearing the end of the third week of their strike, a tentative agreement was reached early Friday morning between the union’s negotiating team and the Minneapolis public school district. Before the agreement was even released to the teachers, the district began flooding parents and educators with messages that classes are back on Monday. This is a lie. A tentative agreement does not end a strike. Only the workers on strike (in this case, the teachers and support staff) have the ability to do that — and they need time and space to read the tentative agreement, discuss it among their co-workers, community members and families, and then vote on it.
The Minneapolis Public School district says it has shared its "last, best and final offer" to striking education support professionals (ESPs). But the ESP and teacher chapters of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT 59) say the district can do better, and they'll continue to strike until that happens. Classes were canceled in Minneapolis on Monday, marking the 10th day nearly 30,000 students have missed school since the strike began on March 8. The main sticking point in contract negotiations continues to be pay for ESPs. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT 59) has demanded starting pay for ESPs be increased to $35,000 annually (it's at about $24,000 right now). The district's offer on Sunday would increase starting wages of 85% of current ESPs to $23 per hour or more, "bringing most of our full-time ESPs close to $35,000 annually," the district says.
Labor is on fire in the Twin Cities. Educators in Minneapolis are wrapping up their second week on strike, and cafeteria workers are poised to join them. St. Paul educators came close to walking out as well; the unions fed off one another as they built their contract campaigns. “St. Paul has the experience,” said St. Paul special ed teacher Jeff Garcia. “Minneapolis has the energy. They are really fired up.” The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and the St. Paul Federation of Educators both announced February 18 that their members had voted to authorize strikes. MFT members walked out March 8. The strikers are in two bargaining units: 3,000 teachers and 1,000 education support professionals (ESPs), such as teacher’s aides.
Minneapolis, MN – The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) strike entered its fourth day on Thursday March 11 as Minneapolis Public Schools remained closed. Picket lines continued to have large crowds with many schools reporting 100% turnout to their picket lines every day of the strike, and the others reporting nearly all educators on their lines. Each day of the strike so far has featured morning pickets at schools starting at 7:30 a.m. and a large unity action happening mid-day or early afternoon. On Tuesday at noon a large rally of around 7000 educators and supporters was held at the Davis Center where the Minneapolis Public Schools office is housed. On Wednesday the unity rally was at the Minnesota State Capitol and again several thousand showed up to hear speeches shouted from the stage to large chants from the giant crowd.
The Minneapolis teachers’ strike kicked off this week with a huge turnout. Over 4,000 teachers and Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) are on strike for the first time in 50 years. The teachers are demanding smaller class sizes, increased wages (especially for ESPs who are mostly people of color), increased mental health support for students, and retention of educators of color. Students, parents, and community members have joined these educators in this strike. The Teachers’ Demands Are Anti-Racist With the George Floyd uprising, Minneapolis saw the rebirth of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The police violently repressed community members and people burned down the 3rd precinct. A few months later, on November 4, 2020, over 600 community members and BLM activists were arrested during a protest on the 1-94 freeway, the largest mass arrest in Minnesota’s history.
For the first time in 50 years, Minneapolis public school teachers and educational support professionals (ESPs) went on strike yesterday to demand better wages, smaller class sizes, mental health support for students, and retention of educators of color. The last time Minneapolis teachers went on strike was in 1970 when it was illegal for public employees to strike. The strike began at seven o’clock in the morning on Tuesday. Teachers, students, parents, and their supporters picketed outside their schools and made speeches. Supporters brought coffee, snacks, and hand warmers. Many of the picketers carried signs calling out Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) superintendent Ed Graff for dismissing the demands of students or teachers.
Minneapolis, MN - On Saturday March 5 rank-and-file union members along with parents, teachers and students held a press conference in support of the teachers, education support professionals (ESPs) and education assistants who will begin a strike Tuesday in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools. More than 93% of the Minneapolis educators voted to authorize the upcoming open-ended strike, along with a 78% strike vote from Saint Paul educators. In the week after the educators’ votes, food service workers in the Minneapolis school system also authorized a strike by a 98% vote. The food service workers’ strike is expected to start soon after the educators’ strike begins.
In a Feb. 24 announcement, teachers with the Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT), which includes both teachers and Education Support Professionals, announced an intent to strike. Filed with the state of Minnesota’s Bureau of Mediation, the intent to strike was authorized by the board in a vote counted Feb. 17 and provides a legally-mandated, 10-day warning to the school districts about a possible strike. The demands from both unions to their districts have been similar. They are asking for limits on class sizes, wage increases, and better mental health support for students. According to reporting from Minnesota Public Radio, the districts have said that the teachers’ demands are not feasible due to budget shortfalls.
Minneapolis, MN - Fight Back! News interviewed Meredith Aby-Keirstead, a founding member of the MN Anti-War Committee, on February 27 for her anti-war perspective on the crisis in the Ukraine and the proxy war developing between the U.S./NATO and Russia. Fight Back!: Why should Americans join with the anti-war movement right now? Meredith Aby-Keirstead: This is a critical time to stop the U.S. as it fans the flames of war. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress want to send more weapons and more military support to Ukraine, which would be like pouring gasoline on this fire. Not only would it kill any diplomatic solutions, U.S. weapons would end up in the hands of right-wing Nazi militias who will use them to attack ethnic Russians. This would also further inflame tensions.
More than 3,000 high school students from across the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota walked out of class February 8 to march to the governor’s mansion and demand justice following the death of Amir Locke. Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was shot and killed February 2 by a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT officer during a no-knock apartment raid. Locke was neither named in the no-knock warrant nor a resident of the apartment. In an area beset by the police killings of Black residents — including 46-year-old George Floyd in May 2020 — Locke’s death sparked marches and car caravans across the Twin Cities. Twin Cities high school students organized quickly through social media to demand the demilitarization of the Minneapolis Police Department, the resignation of those culpable in the killing of Amir Locke, and a ban on no-knock warrants.
In the last two weeks, teachers in both Puerto Rico and Minnesota have taken to the streets. Though separated by thousands of miles, and a temperature difference of about 60 degrees, their demands are in many ways very similar: Like the teachers who went on strike in 2018, they are marching for better pay, better benefits, and greater funding for schools. However, these struggles are taking place in a period very different from 2018. The pre-pandemic strike wave was driven by decades of austerity and rising rank-and-file militancy born of frustration with do-nothing labor bureaucrats. The pandemic has since galvanized workers even more, especially since rapidly rising inflation has significantly chipped away at already historically low wages.
Minneapolis, MN - Around 5000 people marched in protest here February 5, to demand justice for Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man murdered by police on February 2. Police were carrying out a no-knock search warrant on the apartment where Locke was sleeping and shot him three times, nine seconds after they snuck open the door. Protesters demand jail, prosecution and murder charges for the officer who shot Amir and those who planned the raid; an end to no-knock warrants; and the resignation of the Minneapolis Police Chief Huffington and Mayor Frey. There have been multiple protests since the murder of Amir Locke, including a 100-plus vehicle car caravan through downtown, organized by CAIR-MN the night before Saturday’s protest.