UPDATED: Rights and Responsibilities for SPFE Striking Bargaining Groups
March 9, 2020
Re: SPFE Work status, procedures, responsibilities and behavior expectations during a strike.
Dear SPFE Colleagues,
You are receiving this email because you are a member of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE). As your representative, SPFE has announced that if a contract agreement is not reached with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) by the end of day on March 9, the union will strike on Tuesday, March 10.
If a strike takes place, your rights and obligations as an employee may be affected. We want you to understand how participating in a strike may affect you.
You should know that under the law, you have a right to continue to work. The District welcomes all SPFE employees who elect to report to work during this strike and will make every effort to protect the safety and rights of employees who continue to perform their duties.
If an employee chooses to engage in a strike at any time, they cannot cross the picket line and return to work until a settlement is reached.
In the event you choose to exercise your right to work:
- You should report to your regular work site between 7:45-8 a.m. on Strike Day 1
- Most staff will receive temporary reassignments to serve kids
- All staff should be reminded the following:
- Follow processes for reporting harassment provided in previous district-wide communications
- Follow https://www.spps.org/negotiations and check your email for ongoing updates regarding negotiations
- All staff are expected to wear their SPPS ID at all locations you are reporting to on all days
In the event of a strike, SPFE employees need to know the following:
- Right to work: An employee in the striking bargaining group who reports to work during the strike will be permitted to work. Under Minnesota Law (Minn. Stat. sec. 179A.13, subd. 3), it is unlawful for employee organizations, their agents or representatives, and public employees to prevent an employee from providing services to the employer. When crossing a picket line, observe these instructions:
- Do not engage in adversarial conversation or actions
- Leave the area immediately after crossing
- Notify your supervisor if you are having problems crossing the picket line
- If driving, come to a complete stop before proceeding through a picket line. Failure to do so violates state law.
- Wages and Benefits: No wages, salary, holiday or vacation pay, benefits or compensation of any kind will be paid to, or accrued by, any employee engaged in a strike. If you elect to work you will continue to earn wages, salary, holiday, vacation pay, benefits and compensation.
- Paychecks for Completed Work: For any wages due prior to the commencement of a strike, the District will issue a paycheck through normal payroll schedules and procedures. Any employee who does not have direct deposit will receive their paycheck at home via the U.S. Postal Service. The employee is responsible for having the correct home address on file with the payroll office.
- Insurance: The District will not continue employer contributions for any striking employee’s individual or family group insurance coverage or any other fringe benefits during a strike that extends beyond the District’s normal procedures for payment of such insurance premiums. Beginning on April 1, 2020 insurance benefits will be discontinued for striking employees. The District will notify striking employees of how to maintain group coverage at their own expense, along with any additional fees for administrative processing.
- Absence from Work: Any school employee who is absent from any portion of the assigned work day without permission on the date or dates when a strike occurs will be presumed to have engaged in a strike on that date or those dates. No sick leave, disability leave or any other leave, with or without pay, shall be granted to striking employees during the strike.
- Sick/Disability Leave: An employee in the striking unit who does not report to work after the start of the strike and who later claims to have been sick or injured will not be granted sick or disability leave during the duration of the strike.
- Sick/Disability Leave Prior to Strike: An employee in the striking unit who is on sick leave or disability leave prior to the effective date of the strike may continue to be carried on such leave during the strike only if acceptable medical evidence of the illness or injury is provided when requested. Upon the commencement of any strike, the District may require the employee to provide updated medical evidence related to their medical leave of absence.
- Return/Use of District Property: An employee participating in the strike must work with their supervisor to secure all District property at their work site before the strike commences. This includes all electronic devices and keys. Badges will be deactivated for all SPFE striking bargaining groups. Staff who choose to cross the picket line on Day 1 will have their badges reactivated. The District may proceed with disciplinary action for any employee who fails to return District property. Employees may not use District email during a strike.
- Presence on School District Property: Striking employees will not be allowed on District property or permitted to use school facilities or property during the period of the strike. Employees who violate this restriction will be open to prosecution under laws governing trespass on school property.
- Employees who are SPPS Parents: An employee who is a parent of a student enrolled in the District may engage in school activities solely as a parent (e.g., parent conferences, parent committees, Discovery Club), with the understanding that no District function may be disrupted in the lawful exercise of the parent’s right and no union activities may be conducted on District property.
- Other work assignments: Striking employees will not be allowed to participate in any other District work assignments during the duration of the strike, whether on a paid or volunteer basis.
- Illegal Activity: The District will terminate the employment of any employee who engages in illegal activity during a strike or who engages in an illegal strike. Minnesota Statute section 179 A.19, subd. 3 states: “an employee who abstains wholly or in part from the full performance of duties without permission from the employer on a day when a strike not authorized by [179A.18] occurs is prima facie presumed to have engaged in an illegal strike on that day.”
- The District will hold all employees accountable for proper conduct during this strike action. Any employee engaging in threatening conduct or conduct that jeopardizes the safety of our students, other staff, parents, or community members will be investigated for possible discipline or other legal action.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Kenyatta McCarty, Executive Director