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Some Minneapolis workers, including snowplow drivers, could go on strike

After IUOE Local 49 voted down the city's latest deal, the door was open for a strike on Tuesday.

MINNEAPOLIS — A local charter of a construction worker union announced that the union, including some snowplow drivers, could soon go on strike if a deal can't be reached between them and the city of Minneapolis.

On Sunday night, members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49 voted down the city's last contract offer and filed an intent to strike with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services.

A union spokesperson told KARE 11 Monday morning that the workers would not go on strike on Tuesday as originally planned. The union now has meetings set with the city for Jan. 5 and the Minneapolis Airports Commission on Jan. 11.

The IUOE clarified Monday afternoon that the union filed the intent to strike two weeks ago and its members will vote again on a deal with the city on Jan. 5 and no strikes will happen before then.

The charter represents more than 110 equipment operators and mechanics in the city. The workers help build and maintain everything from water treatment plants to the roads and traffic lights, including plowing the roads of snow.

The union said in a statement that, "Our members, in conjunction with other frontline workers, deliver the services necessary for Minneapolis to function."

IUOE Local 49 Business Manager Jason George said that the union's members stayed on the job during a global pandemic and civil strife and ongoing negotiations is about respect for those workers.

“We are evaluating our options to ensure our members get the respect they have earned," he said in a press release.

IUOE Local 49 members who work for the Minneapolis Airports Commission also voted last week to authorize a strike, which could begin as soon as Jan. 25.

"While management was working from home, our members were on the job, ensuring the airport stayed open and running. Management needs to step up and deliver fair compensation for their employees," the union wrote.

On Tuesday, the Minneapolis Airports Commission released the following statement:

“The Metropolitan Airports Commission continues to negotiate in good faith with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, and we are confident we can reach an agreement. While the union’s news release indicates members’ pay was frozen early in the pandemic, the fact is that members received a 3 percent pay increase.

We look forward to continuing discussions with union representatives during mediation meetings on January 11.”

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49 was founded in 1927 and the charter ranges from Minnesota to the Dakotas. The union represents more than 14,000 workers, mainly in the construction industry.

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