MINNEAPOLIS — Teacher unions in two of the biggest school districts in the state are voting on whether to strike.
The Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) is voting Thursday whether to authorize a strike against St. Paul Public Schools.
The vote, being held late Thursday evening, does not mean the union will definitely go on strike. Even if members approve a strike during the Feb. 17 vote, SPFE would still need to decide that a strike was necessary, set a date, and notify the district.
The same steps apply to the vote happening in Minneapolis. State law requires the unions to give the districts at least 10 days notice before the first day of the strike.
Meanwhile, Thursday is the final day for Minneapolis public school teachers to vote on whether to strike in their district. Union members began voting Monday.
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) is asking for smaller class sizes, higher wages and better mental health resources, as well as better COVID-19 precautions.
The MFT will count votes Thursday night. If they decide to strike, it will be the first time since 1970.
"We haven't done this in 50 years, so not in my lifetime and a lot of other educators' lifetime," said MFT President Greta Callahan in an interview with KARE 11. "So, it's a joyous experience right now thinking that it doesn't have to be this way and we can do something about it."
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff has said that if teachers authorize a strike, all classes would be canceled for the duration of the strike. Graff said those missed days would need to be made up later to meet state and graduation requirements, potentially extending the school year into summer and delaying graduation.