MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Duluth Mayor Emily Larson apologized to residents for the mess after more than 20 inches of snow shut down the city last month.
The need for plow drivers is crucial during Minnesota winters, but some St. Louis County drivers are ready to walk off the job.
Duluth is known for winters that the National Weather Service says brings the area an average of 86 inches of snow per year. And if local snow plow drivers strike, it could be a big problem.
“The county’s got a big mess on their hand, so that’s what it’s going to come down to. They’re going to have a problem,” plow driver Cory Garden said.
He is one of the 171 county workers that could go on strike next week. He knows how nasty the winters get in the state’s largest county.
“They are treacherous,” Garden said.
Teamsters Local 320 Secretary Brian Aldes represents the workers involved in the dispute. He says they can strike as soon as Tuesday if the county doesn’t address concerns over rising healthcare costs, paid time off, and the ability for drivers to bid their own routes.
“We have filed out intent to strike with the State of Minnesota, so we are currently in a 10-day cooling off period,” Aldes said.
As of now, it looks like there’s snow coming Tuesday.
“I can only imagine, regardless of the day and the weather, it will be chaos,” Teamsters Local 320 Chief Negotiator Erik Skoog said.
In a statement, St. Louis County says its committed to the bargaining process, adding that in the event of the strike, county supervisors and other staff will plow roads. These workers say the county doesn’t have the capacity to pull that off.
The county and the union will go back to the negotiating table on Friday. Union representatives and workers say they do not want to strike.
Along with plow drivers, some bridge crews, sign techs and mechanics would also be included in the strike.