St. Paul teachers strike possible if vote approved Monday - KMSP-TV

St. Paul teachers strike possible if vote approved Monday

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

After months of contract talks between the teachers' union and the school district, schools in St. Paul could see a major disruption if the leaders of St. Paul's educators union call for members to vote on a strike on Monday afternoon.

The vote is a two-step process that starts at the executive level. First, the executive directors of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers will vote on whether members should vote. If they decide members should, the teachers themselves can then weigh in on whether or not they will strike.

Both the union and the district have been unable to come to an agreement on proposals that would address class-size caps, hiring additional counselors, and reducing standardized tests. There is also no agreement on wages and benefits.

The last time St. Paul's teachers went on strike was in 1946, but many teachers may feel empowered after the Chicago teacher's strike in 2012.

"What we learned from the Chicago strike: If you frame it as an issue about our kids -- the reason we're going on strike is not for our wages, not for our benefits, but for our children's education -- that resonates with people," Hamline University Professor David Larson told Fox 9 News.

Larson believes the strike vote could ramp up the pressure on the district; however, after the 8 months of discussion, the district's chief academic officer, Matt Mohs, told the Associated Press that even though the union and the district agree on core values, "we disagree about how to get there and what funds are available to get there."

"Strike is really the most dangerous economic weapon," Larson said. "You're closing down the enterprise and it should be -- and it is -- the last resort."

When it comes to the contentious contract talks currently under way, Larson said he believes the odds of a teacher strike are high.

"Sounds as though they've explored everything that they can, and that's probably the conclusion they've reached," he predicted.

Even though Larson acknowledges that a strike would interrupt education and inconvenience working families, as a parent of a student attending public school in St. Paul, he said his perspective has him considering both sides of the argument.

"My hope, of course, is that we don't get a strike because I don't want to see my child's education interrupted," he said. "By the same token, I can't be happy about a class size between 40-45 students."

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers meeting takes place on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

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