St. Paul teachers union set to vote on whether to strike

St. Paul educators rally on day of strike.
St. Paul educators rally in March 2020 at Global Arts Plus-Upper Campus on the first day of what became a three-day strike. The St. Paul Federation of Educators said Tuesday its members will vote Feb. 15 on whether to authorize a strike.
Nina Moini | MPR News file

Updated 3:15 p.m.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators said Tuesday its members will vote next week on whether to authorize a strike against the school district.

In a statement, the union said its leaders voted unanimously late Monday to authorize a Feb. 15 strike vote for all three bargaining groups, representing about 3,700, teachers, educational assistants and school and community service professionals.

Like many teacher groups in the state, St. Paul educators have been working without a contract since July of last year. Teachers came close to a strike during the last bargaining cycle in 2022 before coming to a deal with the district.

Union members did strike for three days in 2020 before reaching agreement on a new deal.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

If union members next week vote to strike, union leadership could file paperwork that would start a 10-day countdown to a possible strike in the state’s second largest school district.

Among its priorities, the union said it’s seeking more staff for mental health teams in every building, increased pay, lower health insurance costs and more help for educators working with students who have special needs. 

The district in a statement expressed hope that a strike could be avoided and noted that the sides are currently in mediated negotiations set to include two more days of talks scheduled before the Feb. 15 union vote.

District officials, though, said the union’s current proposals “would cost approximately $112 million compared to the $12.4 million that has been budgeted for these three contracts.”

While St. Paul Public Schools received about $54 million in new state revenue this school year, “large funding gaps remain for essential services and investments,” the district said, adding it plans to withdraw $34.4 million from its reserve funds to cover costs and also make “substantial budget cuts” as COVID-19 relief money expires later this year.