St. Paul teachers union sets strike vote for Feb. 20

Members of the St. Paul teachers union will vote next week on whether to authorize a strike against the St. Paul school district.  

The St. Paul Federation of Educators, which represents 3,500 teachers, educational assistants and school and community service professionals, has been negotiating with St. Paul Public Schools on a new contract since May. The two sides have been meeting in mediation since November. 

The school district says they have made progress on a number of issues, but the union says district leaders have been “dragging their feet for months,” according to a statement. 

The top priorities for union members in the contract negotiations are a "fully staffed mental health team in every building, more multilingual staff to help students and families that need interpreters, additional educators working with students with special needs and appropriate assignments so educators can give students more one-on-one attention," the union said in a news release.

“Our educators see that our students are dealing with trauma in the classroom on a regular basis and need extra support, and we’ve put some proposals on the table to get that support into the classroom so kids can focus on learning,” added Nick Faber, President of the St. Paul Federation of Educators. 

The union's executive board set a strike vote for Thursday, Feb. 20. The union is required by law to give the district at least 10 days’ notice before the first day of the strike. 

SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard said he is committed to reaching an agreement before a strike happens. 

“While we are extremely disappointed the union has decided down a path to voting for a strike, that will not deter our efforts to reach a fair settlement, one that puts the needs of students first, is fiscally responsible and is equitable with agreements we’ve reached with our other collective bargaining units,” Gothard said in a statement. 

Gothard said the district will be sending an email to parents on Tuesday informing them of the pending strike.