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AFSCME contract vote coming on St. Louis County contract offer | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

imgresPublished August 28, 2013, 12:00 AM

AFSCME contract vote coming on St. Louis County contract offer

Officials of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 66 will take the St. Louis County’s latest contract offer to members, averting a strike by some 1,005 employees slated for Friday.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

Officials of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 66 will take the St. Louis County’s latest contract offer to members, averting a strike by some 1,005 employees slated for Friday.

At least for now.

Union officials said members of the local will vote on the deal Sept. 12. Members will have the option to vote yes and ratify the contract or vote no and reauthorize a strike.

If they vote no, another strike would have to be reauthorized by state labor officials and probably wouldn’t occur until about Sept. 23 or 24.

The deal has the county accepting the union’s most recent offer on a key sticking point, namely accumulated sick leave.

The county wanted to reduce the maximum banked sick leave from 1,900 hours to 1,150 hours for new employees. The union said that would create a two-tier system and countered with 1,500 hours for all employees, present and future, except those already over that amount.

The county at first turned down that offer but on Monday reconsidered.

“Our team will take the settlement offer to our membership for a vote,” said Steve Kneifel, who leads the local’s negotiating team. “The employer understands that AFSCME won’t accept a divisive two-tier contract that pits new hires against current employees. We believe that fairness and solidarity create a healthy workplace.”

Kneifel said the deal is unusual because there is no tentative agreement between the union bargaining team and county negotiators. But the State Bureau of Mediation Services said the county’s offer was enough to require a vote of membership, even though the two sides hadn’t been at the bargaining table at the time.

“We don’t have a recommendation to give to members. There is no tentative agreement,” Kneifel said. “So we’ll have to see what happens in the vote. I can’t guarantee it will pass.”

Absentee ballots can be requested through Sept. 6 and must be submitted no later than Sept. 11.

via AFSCME contract vote coming on St. Louis County contract offer | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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