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Saint Paul Educators Set February 13 Strike Date
Union Says District Unwilling to Meet Student Needs in Negotiations
SAINT PAUL, MINN. (February 7, 2018) – The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) announced tonight that educators will strike beginning February 13, 2018 if no settlement is reached in ongoing contract talks with the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS).
“Our union’s executive board voted to set the February 13 strike date,” said Erica Schatzlein, SPFT Vice President and a teacher at Nokomis Montessori. “This is not an action we take lightly. As educators, we want to be in the classroom with our students. If leaders in Saint Paul Public Schools are unwilling to prioritize our students’ needs , teachers are going to stand up for our students.”
Schatzlein pointed to the district position on providing adequate services to students who are English Learners (EL) as an example of the SPPS’ unwillingness to address students’ needs. The union has called for more educators to work with EL students to bring the district into compliance with the Minnesota Department of Education.
Other unresolved issues at the bargaining table include union proposals to lower class sizes, add staff to support students enrolled in special education programs, and expand restorative practices.
Today’s strike date announcement follows last week’s overwhelming vote by SPFT members to authorize a strike if a settlement has not been reached. Over 85% of SPFT members participating voted to strike. Members of all three of SPFT’s bargaining units will strike if an agreement is not reached.
Bargaining will continue through the the end of the week between SPFT and SPPS with a state appointed mediator. SPFT has also let the district know we are willing to continue meeting over the weekend.
“We know this school district can find money when they want to,” said SPFT President Nick Faber, referencing the school district’s recent decision to buy the Crosswinds Middle School in Woodbury for $15 million. “We need them to find money to fund programs for our English Learners and special education students so we can provide the education our students deserve.”
Earlier this week, with the possibility of interruptions in the public school schedule looming, SPFT members began planning Safe Sites to serve students in the event schools are not available. The goal is to make sure that students have safe, warm, and appropriate alternatives if schools are closed.
Plans include identifying locations, arranging food for children at each site, arranging transportation, and assigning SPFT volunteers. In addition, subcommittees are putting together an array of activities for students, and looking at how any medical issues will be addressed.