Skyway march targets tax-dodging corporations

St. Paul teachers and parents clogged the skyway system in downtown St. Paul yesterday. They marched from one corporate office to another, calling on Wells Fargo, US Bank, Ecolab and Securian to pay their fair share toward fully funded public schools.

St. Paul Federation of Teachers Local 28 organized the skyway march. In ongoing contract negotiations with the St. Paul Public Schools, the union has proposed partnering with the district to seek additional revenue from corporations and large non-profits – health care companies and private colleges – that avoid paying local property taxes.

US Bank, Wells Fargo and Ecolab benefit from tax-increment-financing deals with the City of Saint Paul, reducing the amount of property taxes they pay to fund public schools. Ecolab, meanwhile, avoids paying taxes on over $2.1 billion in profits by using offshore tax havens, according to the union.

The march culminated with a rally at Hamm Plaza, across from Ecolab. Speakers decried tax cuts for wealthy corporations at a time when funding for local schools is failing to keep pace with inflation – and as students’ needs continue to grow.

“I want restorative practices, not a school to prison pipeline,” said Kirinda Anderson, a parent of a child at Wellstone Elementary. “I want a counselor with a hug and social worker with a listening ear, not a cop with a gun in my kid’s school.”

Teachers noted that several of St. Paul’s corporate citizens chipped in to lure the Super Bowl to the Twin Cities next February.

“We need the large companies that are investing millions into the Super Bowl, including US Bank and Ecolab, to support public education in the same way,” SPFT President Nick Faber said.

Organizations supporting SPFT’s skyway march included Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and the low-wage worker center CTUL.

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