Contract talks resume for the St. Paul teachers on strike

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, March 12, 2020

ST. PAUL — The St. Paul school district and its teachers union are resuming contract talks while striking educators continue to walk picket lines and classes are canceled for a third straight day Thursday.

The union announced Wednesday night that talks would resume Thursday morning. District spokesman Kevin Burns said the talks did resume and were continuing late Thursday afternoon. The district has canceled classes Friday for a fourth consecutive day.

“We are ready to start negotiating to get a contract that won’t leave any student or educator behind,” said Nick Faber, president of the St. Paul Federation of Educators. “St. Paul educators miss their students and want to get back to school.”

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The St. Paul Federation of Educators is striking over demands for additional mental health, multilingual and special education support staff. The walkout was the first for the district since 1946.

Superintendent Joe Gothard said the $50 million in demands are cost prohibitive.

Burns said school officials have prepared a new proposal for mediation, but did not disclose details.

Union leaders said they’ve been waiting for several days for district leaders to respond to a scaled-down proposal that reduces and stretches out increased staffing over multiple years to give the district flexibility in budgeting.

The union expected thousands of members to resume picketing outside public schools across the city Thursday. Negotiations began last May between the union and the district. The two sides broke off talks about 3 a.m. Tuesday after six days of mediation.