Contract negotiations between Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers unions and the school districts dragged on for months, and the unions each filed intents to strike — unless they reached agreements.

St. Paul averted a strike with an tentative agreement the night before the strike was to begin. The strike in Minneapolis began March 8.

Here's what you need to know.

What happens now?

Minneapolis educators started picketing outside schools the morning of March 8. Mediation continues between the unions and district leaders.

In St. Paul, school is in session as usual. On March 16, a majority of St. Paul Federation of Educators members approved the temporary agreement. It will now go to the school board.

How long could a Minneapolis strike last?

That's uncertain and will depend on how long it takes for the union to reach agreements with the district.

Are classes be canceled?

Yes. All classes, in-person and online, are canceled in Minneapolis for the duration of the strike.

Will students have to make up missed days of school?

Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff has said that time may have to be made up to meet state and graduation requirements.

In an update posted March 22, the district said that families should anticipate the school year to extend longer into June to make up missed days. The state requires at least 165 days of instruction for students in first through 11th grade.

"MPS students now have been out of school for 11 days, meaning our instructional days are now six days under the annual state requirement," the district's update said. Public school districts in Minnesota must offer a combination of a minimum of 165 days along with grade-specific total hours of instruction.

Where can students go during the day?

The district has encouraged families to find their own child care options.

Minneapolis will provide "extremely limited" child care openings at a few schools for students in pre-K through fifth grade. Those openings will be available for families who cannot find other child care.

Minneapolis parks and recreation are also extending hours and youth activities at several sites.

Are meals be available to students?

Yes. Minneapolis offers meals for pickup at school buildings, similar to what was offered during online learning in January. Meals are also being served to students attending the district's day care.

What about Minneapolis athletics?

Minneapolis Public Schools said high school varsity athletics will continue. Junior varsity and B-squad teams can practice on a case-by-case basis if there is adequate adult supervision available during the strike.

What is the Minneapolis teachers union asking for?

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Professionals (MFT) is bargaining for, among other things, a starting wage of $35,000 for support staff. The union is also asking the district for more mental health professionals for students, smaller class sizes, higher wages for teachers and protections to help retain teachers of color.

Who are the support staff and how much do they make now?

There are about 1,200 education support professionals working in the district and their starting salary is $24,000, according to the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. The union also said there are about 300 vacant positions. They help with transportation, language translation, one-on-one assistance for kids with special needs, and before- and after-school programs, among other things.

What about Minneapolis teacher pay?

The average salary for Minneapolis Public Schools teachers is about $71,500, according to state data.

The union is pushing for raises to be "competitive" with other districts and keep up with inflation, its leaders say. You can read the latest updates on wage proposals from the district here and the union here.

The union was initially seeking a 20% salary increase for teachers in the first year of the contract and a 5% raise in the second year.

By March 20, that proposal dropped to a 5% raise in the first year and a 4% raise in the second year. Teachers would also receive a $2,000 bonus in both of those years.

On March 9, the district made its wage proposals public for the first time in a post online. Among other things, the post said, teachers with one to six years of experience would get wage increases of 5% to 12.5% in the first year, with the larger amounts going to those with less experience, and all other teachers would get a 1.5% boost. In the second year, the district said it is offering a 1.5% boost for all teachers.

An updated district proposal on March 20 offers teachers with one to six years of experience wage increases of 5 to 12.5% in the first year, with the larger amounts going to those with less experience. All other teachers would get a 2% boost. In the second year, the district said it is offering a 2% boost for all teachers. All teachers would also receive a $2,000 bonus in the contract's first year.

What did the St. Paul teachers union ask for?

The Saint Paul Federation of Educators' top priorities in contract negotiations included raising wages, staffing a mental health team in every school, lowering class sizes and adding educators to support students with special needs. Union leaders believe increasing wages will help recruit and retain teachers and support staff.

What's in St. Paul's tentative agreement?

The tentative agreement between district and union leaders enshrines class size caps, adds language that guarantees the expansion of mental health services, and grants educational assistants a 13.5% raise over the next three years, according to the union. By next year, educational assistants will make $18.82 per hour.

They currently earn $15.94 per hour, union leaders said.

Teachers will get a 2% raise in each of the next two years and a bonus of up to $3,000, with $1,500 allocated for each of the last two academic years.

St. Paul Federation of Educators leaders said an overwhelming majority of the union's members approved the temporary agreement. It will now go to the school board. If approved, the new two-year contract expires after June 30, 2023.

St. Paul Superintendent Joe Gothard had said that when the union approves the agreement, it could go before the school board for a vote as soon as April 19.

How can the public track progress?

Mediation sessions are closed to the public.

Minneapolis posts some information on its negotiations page of its website, and has created an FAQ for parents. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers also has a website,, with information about bargaining, including videos of the bargaining sessions before mediation began.

What did Minneapolis school district leaders say about the strike as it began?

On Feb. 14, Graff sent a letter to Minneapolis families saying the teachers union proposals were not "fiscally feasible."

"While a teacher strike is the last thing we want to consider, we know that we are a resilient community that can and will work together on behalf of student learning," Graff wrote.

After the union announced the strike March 7, Graff released as statement saying, "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 nonstop in an effort to reduce the length and impact of this strike."

What did St. Paul district leaders say?

In a statement issued Feb. 22, Saint Paul Public Schools leaders said: "The strike [authorization] vote taken by SPFE last week does not change the resolve of the District to reach a fair, equitable and sustainable contract agreement. It also doesn't change the reality that any new money spent would add to our $42.8 million budget shortfall next year. The District cannot spend money it doesn't have, and a strike won't change that basic fact."

After the tentative agreement was announced March 7, Gothard issued a statement saying, "I am thankful that both bargaining teams were able to work together and come up with solutions that honor what is best for our students. I believe we have arrived at fair and equitable agreements that respect our collective desire to do right by our students, while working within the district's budget and enrollment limitations."

Have the unions gone on strike before?

The Saint Paul Federation of Educators went on a three-day strike in 2020 shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and move into distance learning.

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers last went on strike in 1970.

Staff writers Eder Campuzano and Ryan Faircloth contributed to this report.