Barbara Madeloni

A wildly successful, illegal three-day strike by the Andover Education Association in November has reverberated statewide for educators in Massachusetts.

The lowest-paid instructional assistants got a 60 percent wage jump immediately. Classroom aides on the higher end of the scale got a 37 percent increase.

Members won paid family medical leave, an extra personal day, fewer staff meetings, and the extension of lunch and recess times for elementary students.

Andover is 20 miles north of Boston, and the strike involved 10 schools.

Teacher Unions Push for a Ceasefire, With Education, Agitation, and Resolutions

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When Becky Pringle, president of the 3-million-member National Education Association (NEA), the largest union in the country, tweeted, “We join our partner organizations along with Jewish and Muslim leaders across the globe in an urgent call for an end to the violence,” it was one more step in the growing movement among union activists demanding a ceasefire in Palestine.

The Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) walked out on strike today, closing 81 schools. The 4,500-member union is demanding more counselors, more planning time for teachers, more support for special education students, smaller class sizes, and increased salaries and cost-of-living adjustments.

The union’s demands “are a paradigm shift for the state of Oregon,” said ninth grade teacher Sarah Mykkanen. “We aren’t just reacting to something negative, we are demanding a whole new view of what schools do, of how schools give students what they need.”

Slinghot: Take the High Road

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When I ran for president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association I ran headlong into attacks about my character, my competency, and the intentions of our reform caucus. We were accused of being divisive, of being controlled by outside forces, and of cheating.

The union’s previous leaders had cut deals with legislators to limit seniority rights, increase the cost of health insurance, and allow student test scores to be included in teacher evaluations.

Two more illegal strikes have hit Massachusetts! On October 14, members of the Haverhill Educators Association voted to strike. Malden educators voted to strike just a few hours later.

After four days out, Haverhill educators won their demands for school safety and commitment for diverse hiring; those in Malden settled their contract with a one-day strike.

Six thousand Seattle educators walked out on strike September 7, which would have been the first day of school. The top issue was the district’s proposal—disguised in social justice language—to end student-teacher ratios for many categories of special education.

Also key were struggles over class size, cuts to services, and wages, especially for substitutes and paraprofessionals, who often work most closely with students with disabilities.

Minneapolis Strike Wins Big Raise For Lowest-Paid Educators

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After three weeks on strike, members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers voted to accept a new contract that brought significant wins and made inroads on critical issues.

The wins: education support professionals (ESPs) will receive $4 more per hour over the two years of the contract and retroactively; they will also receive a one-time $6,000 payment split over two years and opportunities for more hours and days of work.

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.”

Three contracts, two unions, one voice. On February 18, three groups of educators in the Twin Cities all announced strike authorization votes.

Two are bargaining units in the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers: 3,000 teachers, who voted by 97 percent to authorize a strike, and 1,000 education support professionals (ESPs) such as teachers aides who voted by 98 percent. Each chapter had over 90 percent turnout.

Meanwhile a combined unit of 3,600 teachers and ESPs in the St. Paul Federation of Educators voted by 78 percent to strike.

Chicago Teachers Union members voted by 77 percent on January 4 to go fully remote until effective Covid mitigations to protect educators and students were approved by members and enacted, or until the current Covid surge subsided.

Within a week they had a tentative agreement on mitigation measures. Members ratified it January 12 by 56 percent and returned to in-person teaching.

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