A lack of agreement over mental health support for students, class size restrictions and wages prompted Minneapolis teachers to walk out on Tuesday, canceling classes, The Associated Press reported.

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) employs more than 3,200 teachers with an average salary of more than $71,000, according to the news wire.

But a focus of discussions for teachers in Minneapolis — in addition to teachers in St. Paul, who were similarly mired in negotiations between their school district and teachers — has been support staffers who are paid less, hundreds of whom work for the school district.

“How do you attract Black and brown teachers if you don’t pay a living wage?” asked American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, according to the AP. 

More than 100 union members and supporters were outside on Tuesday demonstrating, the AP noted.

“While it is disappointing to hear this news, we know our organizations’ mutual priorities are based on our deep commitment to the education of Minneapolis students. MPS will remain at the mediation table non-stop in an effort to reduce the length and impact of this strike,” the district said in a statement on Tuesday.

Greta Callahan, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, told The Hill in a brief interview on Wednesday that they would be meeting with the school district that day.

She said she hoped to see school board members at the meeting, but she said that if the school board was not intervening on Wednesday, “We expect more of the same.” 

The development comes as other cities have been mired in public labor disputes, including Chicago, where teachers participated in a walkout and taught remotely amid concerns about COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) earlier this year called the walkout “illegal.”

“What the Chicago Teachers Union did was an illegal walk-out. They abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families,” Lightfoot said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in January.

Updated at 11:30 a.m.

Tags Chigago Lori Lightfoot Minneapolis Minneapolis Public Schools St. Paul Strike action teachers walkout Trade unions
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