Wastewater plant operators for Met Council file intent to strike

On June 17, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 filed an intent-to-strike notice on behalf of 176 operators at the Metropolitan Council’s nine wastewater treatment plants.

About 2.7 million people in 111 cities in the Twin Cities metro area rely on the wastewater treatment plants to clean the water that drains from toilets, showers, washing machines and more.

The intent-to-strike notice comes after members overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer that would have failed to match the compensation paid even by some small cities.

By law, this notice triggers a 10-day cooling off period before workers would be eligible to strike. During that time, Local 49 will continue negotiations with the Met Council.

“Our members at the Met Council nearly unanimously rejected the latest insufficient contract offer by management and at the same time authorized the union to call a strike,” Local 49 Business Manager Jason George said. “They are united, their demands are fair and supported by factual wage comparisons, and the 15,000-member strong International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 has their back. These workers kept the water flowing and the toilets flushing for the entire Twin Cities metro area during a pandemic, at great risk to themselves and their families. They never worked from home — they stayed on the job like they always do. The Met Council spends lots of taxpayer money on many things. It’s time it focused on fairly compensating critical employees who make the entire water infrastructure of the Twin Cities operate.”