Shortly after midnight on Wednesday night, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers sent out an email to its members letting them know that they had overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing a strike. The timing could not be more crucial: the Twin Cities expects one million people to attend Sunday’s Super Bowl game.
Contract negotiations aren’t only over wages. Educators also want to see more investment in the schools, including smaller class sizes, more support staff, and pilot programs for restorative practices. To fund these proposals, the union wants the school district to bring in more money through better tax policies and direct negotiations with local corporations. That’s where the Super Bowl comes in.
While the union is months into its negotiations, leaders haven’t hesitated to point out that the investment that the state and local companies have made in hosting the football game comes at a price for Minnesota’s kids. In a report released in December, the St. Paul Federation of teachers showed that the companies on the Minnesota Super Bowl host committee have avoided paying their fair share in taxes, leaving the state’s schools underfunded.
According to the report, the companies acting as founding sponsors of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee hold $16.5 billion in tax havens. Additionally, the report points out, lobbying has led to even lower tax rates for these corporations and their wealthy CEOs. While the companies have offered up some philanthropic contributions to the education system, their donations pale in comparison to the $1.5 million each founding partner paid to join the Super Bowl host committee in the first place. And their philanthropy is no substitute for a public sector properly maintained by taxes — something Minnesota teachers understand all too well.