Saint Paul Federation of Educators set strike vote date

SPFE Local 28 represents 3,500 Saint Paul Public School workers

Mark Freie
February 11, 2020 - 1:32 pm
Offices of Education Minnesota

Entercom

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Thousands of Saint Paul Public Schools staff members could soon strike pending the results of a strike vote on Thursday, February 20.

On Monday, the Saint Paul Federation of Educators set the strike vote for all three bargaining groups, including teachers, educational assistants, and community service professionals.

Despite the upcoming vote, SPFE Local 28 isn't focused on a strike.

"We try to focus on getting the contract settled right now," SPFE Local 28 President Nick Faber said. "We're focused on getting back to the table and getting negotiations rolling."

Both sides are set to meet the day before SPFE Local 28 members vote to strike or not. Among their demands:

  • 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
  • Appropriate assignments so educators can give students more one-on-one attention.

"Part of the holdup is making sure that SPPS gets actual, credible responses back to us," Faber said. "We have yet to get a written response back to our request for getting mental health teams in every building. We've been lectured about it, but haven't received an actual written response."

Faber says that student mental health was the top priority even before negotiations started in May 2019.

"This is the most important part of our requests. The mental health issues of our students and being able to help our students in the classroom were."

The strike vote would be a ballot vote the on Thursday, February 20 in a neutral location. State law requires the union to give the district at least 10 days' notice before the first day of the strike.

SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard issued a statement on Tuesday:

“SPPS has been negotiating in good faith with members of SPFE since last May. We have made progress on a number of issues and are planning on continuing to meet in mediation as scheduled. 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. Discussion of a strike creates uncertainty for our staff, families and students. To help, SPPS has established an action team to plan on how best to support all stakeholders. Later today, families will receive an email about the pending strike vote so they are informed about the upcoming events. I remain committed to reaching an agreement before a strike happens. I am confident that progress will be made during mediation to avoid disrupting all the great things happening in our schools.”

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