Local 49 Business Manager statement on the status of Twin Cities public sector contract negotiations 

I wanted to update the membership on an urgent matter. Contract negotiations with several large Twin Cities public employers are not going well. Our more than 100 members that work for the city of Minneapolis overwhelmingly rejected the latest offer from the city last week. Yesterday, members of three unions that represent the city of St Paul’s frontline workers, including more than 50 Local 49 members, overwhelmingly voted to reject the city’s last best and final offer and authorized a strike.

At the Met Council, where we represent around 150 waste water treatment professionals, we have been in mediation for some time, and have come to the point where the membership is holding a strike authorization vote this week. At the Metropolitan Airports Commission, we represent more than 20 members who take care of the airport runway field maintenance, and equipment maintenance that have been working under an expired agreement for months with little progress on a fair contract offer.

Let me say this. The workers mentioned above keep the entire Twin Cities running. Without them nobody would have working plumbing, or safe drinking water, be able to fly safely from the airport, or drive down a plowed street, among the many other things they do for all of us daily.

These workers stayed on the job and kept things open during a global pandemic. They didn’t complain, they just did their jobs. There are a lot of politicians right now, particularly so called progressive politicians, that use their words to express support for unions, and for frontline workers specifically.

But if progressive politicians in St Paul, Minneapolis, and at the state level want to show these front line workers the respect they deserve and have earned they can start by making sure their budgets reflect their stated values – they can offer their workers a fair and just pay increase for the work they do.

A fair contract is what is needed, not empty rhetoric.

There is still time and there is negotiating left to be done. Our members will be there and will do everything they can to reach a fair agreement.

But they are clearly articulating to their employers that they will not settle for less than what they have earned and what they deserve. Their union will have their back no matter what and for as long as it takes for them to get the respect they deserve.

 

Jason George
Business Manager I.U.O.E. Local 49

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