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St. Louis County Makes Final Offer, Public Works Union to Vote Saturday

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: January 10, 2020 10:26 PM

Since 10 a.m. Friday morning, St. Louis County and the union representing county plow drivers have been in a mediation session at the St. Louis County Courthouse hoping to come to a contract agreement before a strike unfolds.

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Around 10:15 p.m., the union told WDIO News that the county has made a final offer. A spokesperson for the union says a vote will be taken on Saturday and if the offer is rejected, a strike will be the next step. 

WDIO spoke to both parties before the session started. They both foresee the session going on for a while. 

The State Bureau of Mediation Services scheduled this final round of mediation. If an agreement isn't made, the Teamsters have the legal right to go on strike. The window for a strike begins Jan. 14 and ends Feb. 3.

The Teamsters represents 168 St. Louis County employees of the Public Works Department. They include snow plow operators and mechanics, in addition to bridge workers, building maintenance, parts specialists, and sign technicians.

The workers say there are issues with benefit and wage inequalities, healthcare alternatives, and seniority rights. Recording Secretary Erik Skoog spoke to WDIO about this last week.

"We're talking about people's livelihoods, we're talking about public safety. Our committee, our group, our membership spoke very loudly when they gave us the direction to strike if necessary. It was a difficult choice but one we feel is necessary," said Skoog.

The Teamsters old contract expired New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day they filed an intent to strike notice.

Both parties have expressed their interest in coming to an agreement without a labor dispute.

The county issued a statement New Year's Day saying:

"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."

St. Louis County Communications Manager Dana Kazel said if there is a strike, there is a plan in place to make sure the roads will still be plowed. They said they'll have supervisors and other licensed staff do the plowing.

With snow hitting the Northland Tuesday, a contract agreement will be important.

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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