SPPS, educators reach tentative contract agreement, strike ends
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District officials with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and members of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFE) have reached a tentative contract agreement, ending a three-day strike.
The two sides started negotiations Thursday morning, after more than 19 hours, those talks finally ended around 3:30 Friday morning with a tentative deal. Classes are set to resume for all students on Monday.
"We are glad to reach an agreement with our educators," SPPS Superintendent Joe Gothard said in a statement. "Through hours of compromise and a laser focus on placing students above all else, we have a new two-year agreement that targets resources to areas of greatest need."
"COVID-19 is over here, we settled a contract to end a strike, we settled a contract to end a strike, we no longer have a strike we are back in session and will have students back on Monday, we have staff back today," he added.
Meanwhile, SPFE members said in a statement, "with COVID-19 spreading across the nation, it was in the best interest of all involved to settle the contract."
"Only an unprecedented pandemic and concern over the health and safety of our students and staff stopped St. Paul educators from fighting harder and longer for more resources for our children," SPFE President Nick Faber said in a statement.
The tentative agreement includes adding more staff—including social workers, nurses and psychologists—wage increases amounting to about 1.5% the first year and 2% the second year, and "more manageable workloads" so teachers are able to give students more one-on-one attention.
SPFE representatives said the tentative agreement will now go to full membership for a vote to ratify the deal.
"Did we get everything we wanted? No, but we're already getting ready for the next time and if you saw how organized and how committed and how dedicated our members were, they are ready to pick right back up," said Faber.
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"As a union leader and team, we need to be responsible and make sure we didn't get ourselves caught in a situation where our members were quarantined out while they were on strike, and therefore without pay and without leverage," Faber added.
In a statement, Mayor Melvin Carter thanked union and district leaders for their work on negotiations "to end the strike and resume classes as soon as possible.
Carter when on to state, "I commend our public school teachers, who literally put it all on the line for St. Paul children every single day.
"This fight is the right one; we all know we can and must do better for our children. While the gains won this week will make our district stronger, significant work remains to win the state and federal funding necessary to provide the level of support our children deserve.
"I look forward to working with teachers, administrators, and concerned community members alike to fight for that future together."