St. Paul district, teachers meet in effort to avert strike

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The St. Paul Federation of Teachers and St. Paul Public Schools met with a state mediator in a 12-hour-plus negotiating session Thursday in an effort to avoid a teachers strike, the Star Tribune reports.

Because the session was private, details of it are unknown. Union leaders are expected to give some details on the contract talks in a scheduled "media availability" Friday morning, the paper says.

Leaders on both sides expressed optimism heading into the session, which came four days before a scheduled strike vote.

The Pioneer Press says little headway has been made in nine months of talks. The teachers' union wants a cap on class sizes and specific staffing levels for support professionals such as counselors.

The teachers are also seeking an 11 percent wage and benefit increase over two years as part of the new contract, KSTP says.

The Star Tribune says the average St. Paul teacher salary is $68,436, which is part of a wage-and-benefit package that totals about $92,000. The paper says prior to Thursday's session, the district and the teachers were about $9 million apart on their proposals for compensation.

Thursday's session came a couple days after teachers and parents held a labor rally outside of district offices before the district's school board meeting.

The Pioneer Press says St. Paul was the site of the nation’s first teacher’s strike in 1946, but has not had one since.

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