St. Louis County Plow Drivers’ Union Files Intent to Strike

Strike could happen as early as January 14th. Both sides continue to negotiate.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Minn. – The Teamsters Local 320 Union has filed an intent to strike.

This comes after the labor agreement between St. Louis County and the union expired January 1st.

About 180 St. Louis County Public Works employees are teamsters. They are plow operators, mechanics, bridge crew members, maintenance workers, and more.

Those employees are now set to strike if a deal is not reached with the county in the next couple of weeks.

“To actually think of a strike and to actually kick this ball this far down the field, it’s simply unfortunate,” said Erik Skoog of Teamsters Local 320.

Now that the intent to strike has been filed, there is a mandatory ten-day cooling off period, during which the county and the union both expect more mediation sessions.

“We still have a couple avenues that we can seek before we actually hit the streets and those are items that we’ve discussed with our membership,” said Skoog. “The membership is on board with that.”

The earliest St. Louis County believes a strike could occur is Tuesday, January 14th.

If that happens, the county could be without regular plow operators for part of the winter.

“If it happens on a snow event or it does snow during that time, it could impact travel greatly,” said Skoog.

A county spokesperson tells us they have been working on a contingency plan to get the roads plowed during a possible strike. The county would rely on supervisors and other staff who are licensed and qualified to plow.

Meanwhile, as negotiations continue, union officials say they are looking for higher wages, more health insurance options, and for all employees to have the same benefit accrual system.

“There’s employees within the county that have different accrual systems than our teamsters do and we just want that level playing field, said Skoog.

St. Louis County sent us the following statement about the possible teamsters strike:

“We are aware that the Teamsters have communicated their notice of intent to strike. This triggers a mandatory minimum 10-day cooling off period during which we anticipate additional mediation session(s).

St. Louis County remains committed to the bargaining process, as we have been all along. The Teamsters left the mediation process more than two weeks ago without providing a counter offer for consideration and further discussion. Since then, we have made ourselves available for additional mediation sessions.

Our intent has been and will continue to be to negotiate in good faith with the Teamsters and all our bargaining units, some of which have already agreed to contract terms for 2020-22. The 168 employees represented by the Teamsters are our valued employees and we recognize the tremendous service they provide to the citizens of St. Louis County.

In the interim, St. Louis County has been actively engaged in contingency planning to ensure continuity of services and public safety. Our citizens should be assured that in the event of a strike, the County will continue to plow roads, using supervisors and other staff who are licensed and qualified to plow.

The notice of intent to strike means that the Bureau of Mediation Services will again be engaged in additional mediation efforts during this cooling off period. So we remain hopeful that a strike can be averted and a contract agreement will be successfully reached that is fair to our employees and fair to our taxpayers.”

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