MINNEAPOLIS — It's a race against the clock for teachers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, pulling 12-hour days in negotiations all in an effort to avoid a strike they say no one wants, but may be necessary.
"We would like a contract that is reflective of our expertise, of our professionalism, and for what the children need," said Ruth Krider, a second-grade teacher at St. Anthony Park Elementary in St. Paul.
Teachers say those needs include everything from better pay, to smaller class sizes and access to mental health resources.
Needs, that so far, are proving to be unattainable in Minneapolis, with the district saying they can't spend money they don't have.
"The district is not acting like they want to avoid this strike and that's extremely concerning," said Greta Callahan, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.
She went on to say, "We don't have to win every single thing that's on the table, but we know the top priorities right now, and more than anything, we need to ensure that our students have safe and stable schools."
Across the river in St. Paul, it's a similar situation, but the gap there seems to be closing.
"Our union and the district was in negotiations today and I think there was some progress made," said Krider.
In a statement, St. Paul Schools spokesperson Kevin Burns said, "We are working on contingency plans in the event of a strike and will be communicating the information directly to parents in the next few days. Meanwhile, our primary focus is in mediation and efforts to reach a fair, equitable and sustainable contract settlement."
"Nobody wants to be here, so let's get it done quickly," said Krider.
Nobody, including the parents stuck in the middle of waiting.
"Many teachers are also parents and we love children and we feel your struggle and your pain," said Krider.
"Please continue to tell your children that everything we're doing is for them, and explain to your child what "collective action" is and how we can use that to change our world," said Callahan.
Teachers in both cities plan to continue negotiations through Monday if no deal is reached, and will make an announcement by that evening if there will be a strike.
St. Paul Public Schools says they will be in touch with parents Thursday with contingency plans, and Minneapolis Public Schools says they sent a notice to parents Wednesday about their negotiations.
Teachers and leaders in both districts are making their final pleas to avoid what could be the first teacher strike for St. Paul since 2020, and the first in Minneapolis since the seventies.
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