St. Paul teachers to vote on strike this month

St. Paul Public School teachers are moving closer to potential strike action following a late Monday vote by the union to set a date for a strike vote. This development comes two years after teachers nearly went on strike before an agreement was reached.

Now, tensions are rising again over a new contract.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months, and just two days into mediation talks, the St. Paul Federation of Educators decided to authorize a strike vote for next Thursday, Feb. 15.

The union's primary concerns include needing more mental health staff, lowering health insurance costs, reducing caseloads for educators working with special needs students, and seeking higher compensation.

The union president reads in part: "We are certain that a strike vote is necessary if we hope to reach a settlement with the district that respects our students’ needs and honors our educators and their work."

According to the St. Paul Public Schools' website, for the 2023-24 school year, the union is requesting a $7,500 raise for teachers, which would cost an additional $33 million. Meanwhile, the district has offered a 2% increase, amounting to an additional $10 million. St. Paul teachers are among the highest-paid in the state, with an average salary of $87,250, and 48% earning over $90,000 annually.

Both sides continued mediation Tuesday and plan to return to the negotiation table for two more days next week before the Thursday vote to authorize a strike.

It's important to note that even if the strike vote passes, it does not automatically lead to a strike. The union would need to provide the district with a strike date and at least a 10-day notice. The last time St. Paul teachers went on strike was in 2020.