Another teachers strike is around the corner. Last Thursday, members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators in Minnesota approved plans to strike. Soon 4,000 teachers and educational assistants could close schools for 33,000 students if the union’s 50 collective bargaining demands are not met.

With over 31% of St. Paul’s students from households that qualify for food stamps (SNAP), the union members are choosing to harm students already profoundly impacted by COVID-era school closures. Only one-quarter of St. Paul students are proficient in math and science and one-third in reading. With a chronic absenteeism rate of 43%, many St. Paul students are already missing too much school.

St. Paul teachers closed schools for a three-day strike in 2020 and threatened a strike in 2022, but reached an agreement with the district on pay raises, mental health support increases, class size caps, and guaranteed recess. The 2022 deal included a bonus “for their hard work over the past two years.”

How will the St. Paul school district reward the union for this year’s strike vote? Another bonus? The union’s demands, which include covering 80% of union members’ health insurance premiums, a $7,500 raise in the first year, and a 7.5% pay increase in the second year, exceed the district budget by $100 million. Of course talented teachers should be well compensated, from a union perspective, It’s never enough. 

The union admits on its website that “Unfortunately for far too many students, our public schools still do not work.” So true.

To learn more about how teachers unions fail students, watch or read IWF Education Freedom Center director Ginny Gentles’ recent congressional testimony and listen to the Students Over System podcast episode, “Corey DeAngelis: Funding Students And Exposing Radical Teachers Unions.”

For more information about teachers unions, check out the IWF Education Freedom Center