Additional Mediation Days Requested by St. Paul Superintendent in Effort to Avoid Strike
The Superintendent of St. Paul schools has requested additional time for mediation before a teachers’ strike begins on March 10th. The St. Paul Federation of Educators includes more than 3600 teachers, educational assistants, and other school staff.
Negotiations have been ongoing since May 2019. According to union members, their highest priority is mental health support for staff. They also want additional special education staff and higher pay and benefits. The district’s stance is that it cannot afford to increase pay, nor meet the other demands of the union.
Both sides have agreed to meet three additional times before the strike. The school district has asked specifically for mediation days scheduled on specific dates and at specific times. Their goal is to reach a contract agreement and avoid the strike.
Recently, the St. Paul Board of Education approved a resolution that would enable the district to put resources in place including employees that would step in if there were a strike. The superintendent would also have the power to close schools or cancel programs and activities if needed, to reassign personnel, and lay-off employees if needed. The school also announced that if a strike does occur, all K-12 classes and all activities would be closed, at least initially. Eight schools would open to accommodate K-5 students from 8:30 am to 3 pm each day and lunch and transportation would be provided.
Despite the request for additional mediation days, the 10-day cooling-off period has been launched. The period is a requirement before a strike can begin.