St. Paul teacher’s union moves to vote on strike

Contract negotiations between St. Paul Public Schools administration and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers are coming to a head.

The teachers union has set out a list of demands to be met in a new contract, which include measures to cap class sizes, raise teacher pay, hire more nurses, and increase specialty staffing at the schools, among other demands.

The district says the demands would cost an estimated $158 million, a figure the union refutes.

The teachers union may move to vote on a strike on Monday, Feb. 24, after months of negotiations.

Whether the vote takes place depends on the outcome of mediations slotted for Thursday, Feb. 20 -- a third-party mediator was scheduled to meet with the two sides from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to work out the issues of class sizes and teacher pay.

If a strike is authorized by union members, the union’s executive board would then make a decision whether to go through with a strike, according to the union’s website. The union would have to give St. Paul Public Schools a 10-day notice, and negotiations would continue leading up to an actual strike date.

At a St. Paul School Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, parents and teachers rallied to raise attention and make their concerns over class sizes and other issues known.

At the meeting, the board moved to table a vote on a resolution that spells out what would happen if a strike were to occur -- things like school closings and a potential extending of the academic year. The resolution was tabled in hopes of encouraging a positive outcome for the mediations.

The resolution may come up again on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at a scheduled school board meeting following the union’s strike vote -- board members will meet behind closed doors to discuss contract negotiations, and a public meeting will follow.

-- Patrick Larkin

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