Snow plowing demands tested by St. Louis County strike

Teamsters Local 320 and St. Louis County to meet Sunday morning

Mark Freie
January 18, 2020 - 11:26 am
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The snow is getting moved in St. Louis County, but only by about one-third of the typical snow plows the county is used to seeing.

Saturday marked the fourth day of a strike by nearly 170 workers in St. Louis County's highway maintenance division, which would typically be out plowing snow following a storm like the one witnessed Friday into Saturday.

Related: Wind, snow, and ice batters Minnesota

St. Louis County spokesperson Dana Kazel says a team of 35 supervisors and other county workers hit the road at 4 a.m. Saturday.

"As of 9 a.m. they had alread hit about 50 percent of the prioritized roads based on traffic volume," Kazel said. "They'll be out until about dusk tonight and then head back out tomorrow."

Sunday could be a big day for the County and Teamsters Local 320 which represents the striking workers.

"The Bureau of Mediation Services contacted both sides on Friday and set-up a meeting for Sunday morning at 11," she said. "As always, we are hopeful we can bring this to a resolution."

Still, a snow storm hitting the biggest county in Minnesota creates a few tense moments.

"We have about a third of the normal amount of plows out in a jurisdiction that covers 7,000 square miles of roads and bridges," Kazel said. "That's over 3,000 miles of roads that the county maintenance workers are responsible for plowing."

The 35 driving the plows through the latest snowfall include supervisors within the public works department who started out as plow operators.

Among the arguments from Teamsters Local 320 is sick-time accrual and the hour-cap. Workers who came after a 2012-2013 agreement want the cap raised from 1,150 to 1,500 hours, or about nine months pay.

Workers brought in before the 2012-13 agreement can retire with 1,900 hours of sick-time, or 11 months pay reimbursed. 

 

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