MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Snowplow drivers in St. Louis County are preparing to walk off the job Wednesday ahead of a storm system that threatens to dump significant snow on Minnesota in the coming days.
The strike comes after union drivers in the northeastern Minnesota voted over the weekend to reject the final offer from the county. Drivers' concerns are healthcare costs, paid time off, and the ability for drivers to bid their own routes.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Teamsters Local 320 said the strike will affect all St. Louis County Public Works Department buildings, around which there will be on-going pickets. There are also plans to follow plows should they leave the buildings.
"This was a tough decision for the membership to make," says Brian Aldes, the secretary treasurer for Teamsters Local 320, in a statement. "However, the Teamsters employed by St. Louis County deserve parity of benefits with the civil service and merit employees."
The plow drivers say they are prepared to continue the strike until their demands are met. Lines of communication will remain open with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, the union says.
County officials say they have a plan in place to plow the roads using supervisors and staff in other departments. There are more than 3,000 miles of roadway to be plowed in St. Louis County.
The strike comes as snow is in the forecast. Up to a few inches of snow are expected to fall Wednesday, while this weekend may bring a more powerful storm, which could leave parts of Minnesota with up to 8 inches of snow.
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