Date set for upcoming strike against SPPS

A date has been set for the upcoming strike educators have planned against St. Paul Public Schools.

The president of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators Local 28 (SPFE), Nick Faber, confirmed with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Wednesday that the strike will take place March 10.

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Earlier Wednesday, Faber had said the strike would be March 9, but the Bureau of Mediation Services told SPFE a strike wouldn't be authorized until a day later.

"We disagree with this interpretation but will move forward and focus on negotiating a contract that gives students and educators the schools they deserve," said Faber. "If we don't reach a settlement prior to that, we will strike on Tuesday, March 10."

Currently, the strike is expected to take place outside Benjamin E. Mays School in St. Paul.

Last week, nearly two-thirds of the roughly 3,550 members voted and of those who voted, 82% voted to strike, according to the SPFE.

The move to strike comes after a dispute over contract negotiations. The bargaining team said its three main priorities are a fully-staffed mental health team in every building, more multilingual staff and additional educators supporting students with special needs.

St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard said the district is prepared to negotiate and said he has asked the bargaining team to clear their calendars, including nights and weekends, so those negotiations can happen. Friday and Saturday this week have been scheduled as additional negotiation dates.

Gothard issued a statement on the strike, which read, in part, "We are extremely disappointed our educators continue down a path toward a strike … Our students, families coworkers and community expect all of us to work together and avoid a strike and that's what I am committed to doing."

Gothard went on to state, "the district is doing everything possible to reach an agreement before a strike happens."

If a strike does happen, SPPS said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that classes and almost all other services and activities will be canceled for the duration of the strike, with a few exceptions. You can watch the full press conference below.