St. Louis County Public Works Employees Vote to Ratify New Contract with County
Union members voted unanimously 133-0.
EVELETH, Minn.- In an unprecedented unanimous vote, the Teamsters Local 320 Union representing St. Louis County Public Works employees voted to ratify a contract agreement with the County, ending their strike which began last Wednesday.
“You ratified the contract 133-0, it was unanimous,” announced Teamsters Recording Secretary Erik Skoog. That announcement was met with raucous cheers from the Union members.
“Between both parties this is a good contract for St. Louis County and for the Teamsters,” Skoog said.
At a meeting in Eveleth early Monday evening. union members filed in to vote on a new three-year contract both parties agreed to at two in the morning.
“The larger the bargaining unit that you have the less likelihood of having a unanimous vote,” said Skoog. “But the members trusted and trust myself as their union rep. They trust and respect our negotiating committee and stewards to do what’s best.”
For the first time, Local 320 Union voted unanimously on a contract resulting in base wage increases of 2% plus an additional $0.55 cents per hour in 2020, 2.25% in 2021, and 2.25% in 2022; an almost 4% higher starting wage increase for new equipment operators, and the ability to shop around for health insurance.
“We believe that we have the opportunity and a health plan that will see our members and families saving up to $400 a month,” said Skoog.
“It’s gonna come down to not saving me money, it’s gonna save the taxpayer money too, bottom line,” Teamsters member Cory Garden said.
With the strike officially over, employees are expected to return to work Tuesday morning at seven. A relief, for some like Garden.
“Nobody wants to be on strike, nobody,” he said. “Especially when you’re a public employee you don’t want to be out there. We’re there to make sure the public gets from A to B, in between medical services, down to school buses.”
According to Union officials, the plow drivers are excited to return to their duties serving the people of St. Louis County.
“This is just a matter of getting back out, having that pride to go out there and clean that, cause it’s it’s like having a garage that’s clean, they just have that pride in it,” said Skoog.
St. Louis County officials released a statement on the contract agreements which read in part:
“This has been a challenging time for all of us. We have always recognized the hard work and important contributions of these employees and our focus is now to move forward again as a team.”
Despite leaving the county plows for several days, Garden said they appreciate that the public rallied around them.
“With the support of the community that helped us at our picket lines, businesses coming out, helping, that helped out, the uplifting from the public is huge for us.”