St. Paul teachers authorize strike vote
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The St. Paul teachers' union announced Wednesday that it will vote on a possible strike Jan. 31.
The union's executive board authorized a strike vote Monday night. Three bargaining groups will vote separately: teachers, educational assistants and a group called "school and community service professionals," which includes cultural specialists and family liaisons.
The union has proposed increased support staffing and extending funding for a "restorative practices" discipline approach.
"Those are some of the issues that we've ... gotten very little back-and-forth from the district on," union president Nick Faber said.
For teachers, school district proposals regarding work time and class sizes are sticking points. A district proposal mandates a 40-hour work week and gives principals control over the majority of teachers' out-of-class time. Faber said that control would likely result in more meetings.
Faber said as a science teacher he regularly worked more than an eight-hour day: "One of those days a week I would have mandated meeting time driven by our principals, and so on those days I was there until 6 or 7 p.m., and again still taking [work] home with me."
The district also proposed applying class size limits only at schools that reach 95 percent of total enrollment capacity. Teachers proposed smaller class sizes.
The three bargaining groups and the district are currently in mediation. Teachers have their next mediation session Thursday.
If the parties reach agreement before the Jan. 31, the strike vote would be called