Minneapolis teachers and education support professionals approved a new contract with the school district Sunday, ending their nearly three-week strike.
Teachers and support staff will return to work Monday while the district's 28,700 students will return to classes Tuesday.
The approval comes after the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Minneapolis Public Schools announced that they had reached a tentative agreement on Friday. See the agreements here.
The union, which represents about 4,500 teachers and education support professionals, began its strike on March 8 after negotiations with the school district for higher wages, smaller class sizes, protections for educators of color and mental health supports for students had dragged on for months.
"As we have decided collectively to leave an abusive relationship with this district, we have shifted the power dynamic," said Greta Callahan, president of the union's teacher chapter at a news conference Sunday evening announcing the approval. "We should be so proud today to be educators. We should be proud of this profession. … We have never been more united, and all of our eyes are wide open to the real fight ahead of us. This is one battle in a larger war that we are fighting, and it is for strong public schools."
Over the weekend, the union hosted information sessions to address members' questions. Those sessions coincided with voting, which began Saturday at 10 a.m. and ended Sunday at 4 p.m. In the end, the agreements were accepted by the majority of teachers and education support professions who voted, the union said.
"We're excited about the wins that we were able to get in this contract," said Shaun Laden, president of the union's education support professional chapter. "They were significant. We did what we could with the hand we were dealt, but there's more to do in the future."
According to the union, some of those wins include wage increases for education support professionals that boost the starting hourly wage from $19.83 to $23.91; an increase in the number of school counselors in the district, and layoff protections for teachers from "a population underrepresented among licensed teachers."
The education support professionals' contract establishes a $6,000 bonus, half of which they will receive April 8. Those who have worked for the district for at least 10 years will receive an additional $1,000.
Teachers will receive $4,000 on April 8 and pay raises of at least 2%. Class sizes will be capped.
Both new contracts run through the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
"Nothing is more important to the MPS community right now than returning our students to their classrooms," MPS Superintendent Ed Graff said in a statement Sunday evening.
The St. Paul Federation of Educators approved a similar contract March 16 after it reached a tentative agreement with the district a week earlier. Its members were prepared to strike but ultimately never did because the tentative agreement was reached on what would have been the first strike day.
Because of the Minneapolis strike, the school district will have to make up for the students' lost class time. Pending school board approval, the district plans to add 42 minutes to the end of each school day once students return from spring break and add two weeks to the school year.
Staff writer Mara Klecker contributed to this report.