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St. Louis County, two union locals are going to mediation | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

8 Labor-DayPublished August 14, 2013, 12:00 AM

St. Louis County, two union locals are going to mediation

St. Louis County officials and representatives of the county’s two largest labor unions will meet with a mediator in St. Paul on Friday in a last-ditch effort to reach a settlement on contract talks.

By: John Myers , Duluth News Tribune

St. Louis County officials and representatives of the county’s two largest labor unions will meet with a mediator in St. Paul on Friday in a last-ditch effort to reach a settlement on contract talks.

Members of both the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees “civil service basic” unit and the “merit basic” unit voted July 31 to authorize their union heads to call a strike if necessary.

The county employees have been working without a contract since Dec. 31, 2011, although both sides have recognized the old contract in the

meantime.

The two unions represent 1,005 of the county’s 1,620 employees.

Jim Gottschald, the county’s human resources director, told county commissioners Tuesday he is optimistic that mediation will bring the two sides together. But he said supervisory officials also are planning for a possible strike that could have a major impact on county-provided services in most of the county’s departments.

“We’re prepared for the event of a work stoppage,” Gottschald said in the County Board’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

AFSCME officials on Tuesday declined to characterize sticking points, but they said in a statement that Friday’s “mediation is an opportunity for the county to avoid a strike.”

If mediation fails, any strike would first have to be certified by the state Bureau of Mediation Services, which could happen as early as Monday. The bureau would set a 30-day window in which the strike must start, union

officials said.

County employees are represented by 11 different union bargaining units, four of which have signed contracts through 2013 or 2014. Six of the units still are without a new contract.

via St. Louis County, two union locals are going to mediation | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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