Educators in St. Paul, Minneapolis public schools vote in favor of strike

People march on a bridge holding signs.
Striking teachers march on the 7th Street bridge in St. Paul, Minn., on March 10. Teachers and staff in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools voted to authorize strikes amid an impasse in contract negotiations. 
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

Teachers and staff in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools have voted in favor of authorizing strikes amid an impasse in contract negotiations.

In results announced after voting ended Thursday night, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers said 97 percent of teachers and 98 percent of support staff voted in favor of a strike.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators said more than 78 percent of its voting members supported a strike.

The votes do not mean teachers are going on strike right away — but they empower union leaders to call one. There are required cooling-off periods of at least 10 days, during which the two sides can continue trying to reach an agreement.

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Union leaders in both districts are asking for limits on class sizes, better mental health support and wage increases.

"Nobody wants to strike, but the short-term sacrifice is worth it so our students have the schools they deserve and educators stay in the profession for years to come," the St. Paul Federation of Educators said in a statement following the vote.

Minneapolis school district leaders have said the union’s proposals for pay increases are “not fiscally feasible.” In St. Paul, district leaders say they're facing a $42.8 million shortfall due to declines in student enrollment.

St. Paul educators last held a strike in March 2020. The last time Minneapolis public school teachers held a strike was decades ago, in 1970.