Belabored: Teacher Strikes in the Age of COVID-19

Belabored: Teacher Strikes in the Age of COVID-19

This week teachers and education workers went on strike in Minneapolis for the the first time in fifty years.

Teachers hold placards in front of the Justice Page Middle school in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 8, 2022 (Kerem Yucel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Teachers and their labor have been one of the most contentious subjects of the COVID era, as the nation’s papers of record (and even some supposedly progressive publications) scolded teachers to get back into the physical classroom and blamed them for everything that could possibly go wrong with children. Around the country, teachers have been quitting, retiring, and finding ways to resist, and now we have a strike in a big urban school district⁠—the first teachers’ and education workers strike in Minneapolis in fifty years, as the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals hits the picket lines. We speak with Minneapolis teacher Maria White and special education assistant Ben Polk about the strike, and also check in with Leah VanDassor of the St. Paul Federation of Educators, which also came within hours of a simultaneous strike. 

We also hear from New York Times digital engineer Benjamin Harnett, who is part of the tech workers union that scored a big victory this week, and talk about a surprising victory for the postal service⁠—in the Senate, no less. For Argh, we consider the struggles of childless women in the workplace, and the way at-will employment enables discrimination. 

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Alexandra Bruell, Hundreds of New York Times Tech Staffers Vote to Unionize, Wall Street Journal

Times Tech Guild

The Associated Press, Congress passes bill to shore up the Postal Service without cutting back on deliveryNPR

David Dayen, Oshkosh Corporation Seeks Non-Union Labor to Build Postal TrucksAmerican Prospect



Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals

St. Paul Federation of Educators

Mara Klecker and Ryan Faircloth, Minneapolis teachers walk picket lines as strike begins, Star Tribune

Tim Nelson, Jon Collins and Andrew Krueger, Talks set to resume as Minneapolis teachers’ strike extends into third day, MPR News


Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Sarah: Kelli Maria Korducki, It’s the End of the World As We Know It. And We’re Still At Work.Elle

Michelle: Sharon Johnson, ‘That Was What Hurt the Most,’ Progressive