Labor Union

Saint Paul Federation of Educators

Website:

www.spfe28.org/

Location:

SAINT PAUL, MN

Tax ID:

41-0252680

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $4,118,300
Expenses: $3,818,878
Assets: $1,415,464

Location:

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Type:

Labor Union

President:

Leah VanDassor

Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE), formerly known as the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, is a teachers’ union based in Saint Paul, Minnesota representing more than 3,500 teachers, assistants, community service professionals, and other related employees. [1]

The union takes staunch left-of-center stances: On its website, it resolutely proclaims that “teaching is an inherently political act” and that “for far too many students, our public schools still do not work” which “is especially true for many of our students of color.” The union is proud of its history of strikes and rallies not only for wage increases but for left-progressive social policy as well, and it currently advocates for “fully funded, racially equitable public education” which it claims is absent in the United States. [2]

The group has released research reports on political topics such as critical race theory, prison reform, and police abolition. [3]

Background

The Saint Paul Federation of Educators is an affiliate of Education Minnesota, a Minnesota teachers’ union, and the two major national teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). [4] It is designated as Local 28 within the AFT. [5] It is also a member of Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation and the Minnesota AFL-CIO, both of which are subsidiaries of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). [6]

In addition to a founding constitution, the union has a document stating its “narrative,” which among other things states that the union exists to be “a powerful force for justice, change, and democracy” and to “work diligently to end racial disparities.” [7]

Activities

In 1946, members of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators participated in the first organized teacher’s strike in United States history. Its demands included equal pay for women and for textbooks to be paid for and provided by the state. [8]

The union has successfully demanded smaller class sizes, “staffing improvements,” wage increases, and the implementation of “Restorative Practices” that replace traditional methods of discipline like detentions and suspensions with “conflict resolution” circles that bring bullies, victims, and teachers together to discuss their problems. [9] [10]

The union produces its own research reports on topics related to teaching methods and school funding as well as on topics less relevant to teaching like police and prison abolition discourse. [11]

One such report, entitled “Police, Prison, and Profits: How Minnesota’s Largest Banks Make Money from Misery” published in 2016, promotes anti-police views, stating that “the endless stream of African-Americans killed at the hands of police officers has made it clear that the police do not exist to protect and serve our communities.” Rather than being created to stop crime, the report claims that contemporary American police forces are the product of “patrols” formed to “catch runaway slaves” in the American South and to put down “working class strikes and upheavals” in the North. It argues that the police forces would be unable to function without financial banking from private equity firms and major national banks like Wells Fargo and US Bank. In turn, the report states that such banks profit off the private prison industry and the forced labor of African American prisoners, reasoning that this institution is a vestige of white supremacy and slavery. [12]

Another report, “Power of Community,” claims that public educators and public schools have been “under attack by well-funded radically conservative reform advocates.” In response to this alleged campaign, left-of-center organizer Paul Rohlfing, who had previously worked with other unions like the SEIU as well as with health care reform initiatives, offered his services to the union in 2008. Under Rohlfing’s guidance, the union drafted its “New Narrative” document to use as an ideological charter to orient all its future strategies and advocacy campaigns around. [13] [14]

Leadership

Highland Park Middle School teacher Leah VanDassor became the president of the union in May 2021, succeeding Nick Faber, who had retired after working as a teacher in the district for 35 years. Upon accepting the role, VanDassor expressed her commitment to increasing pay and working conditions for its members, expanding “restorative practices” at schools, and advocating for more “mental health supports” for students. She also highlighted her allegiance to left-progressive narratives on race, claiming that she would “fight against injustices to our Black and Brown students and their families who are, too often, left out of the conversations and decision-making in our public schools.” Before becoming president, VanDassor was involved with developing and managing the district’s COVID-19 closure and masking policies. [15]

References

  1. “About Us.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/about-us/. ^
  2. “About Us.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/about-us/. ^
  3. “Research.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/research/. ^
  4. “About Us.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/about-us/. ^
  5. “AFT Local 28: St. Paul Federation of Teachers Records.” Wayne State University Library System. Accessed October 24, 2021. http://archives.wayne.edu/repositories/2/resources/1175. ^
  6. “About Us.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/about-us/. ^
  7. “New Narrative.” SPFE28. October 12, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SPFT-Narrative.pdf. ^
  8. “About Us.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/about-us/ ^
  9. “About Us.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/about-us/. ^
  10. Porter, Abbey J. “Restorative Practices in Schools: Research Reveals Power of Restorative Approach, Part I.” IIRP Graduate School. March 21, 2007. https://www.iirp.edu/news/restorative-practices-in-schools-research-reveals-power-of-restorative-approach-part-i. ^
  11. “Research.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/our-union/research/. ^
  12. “Police, Prison, and Profits: How Minnesota’s Largest Banks Make Money from Misery.” SPFE28. July 2016. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/police-prison-profits.pdf. ^
  13. “Power of Community.” SPFE28. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Power-of-Community.pdf. ^
  14. “New Narrative.” SPFE28. October 12, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SPFT-Narrative.pdf. ^
  15. “Leah Vandassor Elected President.” SPFE28. May 11, 2021. https://www.spfe28.org/leah-vandassor-elected-president/. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1967

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Aug Form 990 $4,118,300 $3,818,878 $1,415,464 $369,475 N $414,370 $3,599,358 $19,031 $55,901 PDF
    2018 Aug Form 990 $4,598,113 $4,516,266 $1,316,157 $582,439 N $1,386,138 $3,141,925 $4,619 $0 PDF
    2017 Aug Form 990 $4,198,508 $4,256,064 $1,111,389 $459,518 N $1,089,999 $3,105,103 $1,106 $0 PDF
    2016 Aug Form 990 $3,758,490 $3,609,117 $991,577 $212,445 N $679,486 $3,074,778 $1,135 $0
    2015 Aug Form 990 $3,549,187 $3,461,110 $778,313 $148,554 N $514,315 $3,033,126 $2,080 $0 PDF
    2014 Aug Form 990 $3,599,048 $3,391,967 $622,261 $80,579 N $624,211 $2,950,004 $486 $0 PDF
    2013 Aug Form 990 $3,311,694 $3,267,297 $428,841 $94,240 N $437,779 $2,857,660 $451 $0 PDF
    2012 Aug Form 990 $3,120,951 $3,096,132 $441,068 $150,863 N $395,765 $2,702,490 $417 $0 PDF
    2011 Aug Form 990 $3,389,467 $3,356,694 $353,623 $88,237 N $608,987 $2,757,823 $1,853 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Saint Paul Federation of Educators

    23 EMPIRE DRIVE STE N100
    SAINT PAUL, MN 55103-1856