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Superintendent Message About SPFE Strike Vote Authorization

February 24, 2020

Dear SPPS Colleagues,

We are all aware the Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE), the union representing Teachers, Educational Assistants and School and Community Service professionals, has voted to authorize a strike. That means SPFE leadership can now file an intent to strike notice, which will begin a 10-day period before an actual strike can occur.

The union has said it will make the announcement of a strike date sometime next week. When SPFE informs us of their intended strike date, we will provide you with additional information, including your rights and responsibilities in the event of a strike. Additional information is available at www.spps.org/negotiations.

As Superintendent I want to let you know I care deeply about the children and educators in SPPS. I am committed to negotiating in good faith until a contract can be agreed upon that is fair to SPFE, equitable with other union contracts and is responsible to the taxpayers of Saint Paul.

The facts of this situation are clear:

  • Enrollment is down in our District
  • State funding has not kept up with inflation
  • The Board of Education has authorized wages increases for all collective bargaining units of 1.5-percent and 2-percent for two-year contracts
  • Several SPPS collective bargaining units have agreed to contracts with these increases
  • Our students deserve the very best education, including the support of school nurses, health assistants, intervention specialists, psychologists, counselors and social workers
  • We currently have approximately 500 of these professionals in our schools
  • Our students deserve more, and that’s why the District is proposing spending in excess of $1 million to add more of these student support professionals beginning this fall

There are great things happening in our schools throughout the District because of the great people who work in SPPS. I am proud to lead this District and am honored to work side by side with you. Our students, families and community place their trust in us each day and we know how important it is to maintain and build on the trust we have earned.

We currently have three mediation dates scheduled; Feb. 28, March 5 and 6. The District is formally requesting to add Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1 to that schedule. We are prepared to negotiate 24 hours a day in our sincere effort to avoid a strike.

I have instructed all members of the District bargaining team to clear their calendars, including nights and weekends, and be ready to get back into mediation at a moment's notice in order to continue discussions toward a contract settlement.

We will provide additional information as soon as we know more. Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to our students.

In partnership,

Joe Gothard, Superintendent