Final Mediation Session Takes Place for St. Louis County Plow Drivers
Tuesday, January, 28, 2020
St. Louis County and the county’s plow truck drivers are headed into their final mediation session in an attempt to resolve a contract dispute that could keep them off the roads this winter.
According to chief negotiate for Teamsters Local 320, Erik Skoog; both sides are hopeful there will be a settlement. Skoog explained, “We genuinely want to avoid a strike at all costs. Obviously, a strike is the last effort in trying to achieve one's goals. When a strike happens it impacts people's livelihoods, it disrupts their families, it disrupts their income flow, and it disrupts the community as well."
The mediation will be overseen by a member of the state Bureau of Mediation Services and it will take place in Duluth at the county courthouse. The mediation was scheduled based on the 10-day “cooling off” period that just occurred. Should the mediation fail, teamsters have a right to launch a strike that could last until February 3rd.
The county also expressed its desire to return to the bargaining table in mediation. According to county spokesperson Dana Kazel, “(We are) committed to working through this mediation session no matter how long it takes to reach a deal that serves both our employees and taxpayers. ”
The mediation comes after the Teamsters voted 112-1 to authorize a strike. They had already walked away from negotiations with the county in December over what they called “healthcare inequality.”
According to Teamsters, workers in the county’s Public Work Department receive less coverage and pay more than management and non-union employees toward their healthcare costs. Union members requested the right to find plans outside of the county’s self-funded program.