St. Paul educators vote to strike

Late Thursday night, the members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators voted to strike. The date the strike is set to begin will be announced next week. Minnesota law required the union to give the district 10 days notice before striking.

The 3,700 members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators are striking over increased pay and benefits. The union also wants mental health teams in every building, more staff who speak different languages and lighter workloads for special education teachers.

“No one wants to strike, but St. Paul educators are fed up. District leaders aren’t listening to the people who know our students best – the educators and parents who are with them every day,” Nick Faber, president of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators said in a press release. “The longer they ignore our proposals, the longer our students go without the resources they need and the schools they deserve.”  

The district says its offered $9.6 million in new spending over the next two years, but falling enrollment is costing the district millions in lost revenue every year.

Thursday night, the district released a statement from SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard:

The District is committed to negotiating in good faith until a contract can be agreed upon that is fair to our educators, equitable with other union contracts and is responsible to the taxpayers of Saint Paul.

The reality is Saint Paul Public Schools is underfunded by more than $80 Million from the State of Minnesota, including Federal support for special education and related services. In addition, SPPS enrollment is down 2,000 students since the 2015-16 school year. Yet we are offering wage increases in each of the two years in a new contract and we are proposing to invest more than $1 million into additional student support positions, including nurses, counselors and social workers.

We are extremely disappointed our educators continue down a path toward a strike. Our students, families, coworkers and community expect all of us to work together and avoid a strike, and that’s what I am committed to doing.

As Superintendent and as an SPPS parent, I know the uncertainty that talk of a strike brings to our students, families and community. I can assure you the District is doing everything possible to reach an agreement before a strike happens. I remain confident that progress will be made during mediation to avoid disrupting all the great things happening in our schools.

I have instructed all members of the District bargaining team to clear their calendars, including nights and weekends, and be ready at a moment's notice to continue mediation discussions toward a contract settlement.