Unions representing about 300 city of Saint Paul snowplow drivers, park workers, heavy equipment operators, forestry staff, and sewer and water workers voted on November 1 to accept a two-year contract for 2021-2022, averting a threatened strike. The contract includes a 1 percent wage increase retroactive to January 1 of this year, a 2 percent increase starting in January and a 0.5 percent increase in July.

The old contract expired at the end of last year. Employees and city administrators had been in talks for more than 10 months. The city had initially offered no wage increase for 2021, and a 1.5 percent increase for 2022. A lump-sum payment was also offered. Workers voted to authorize a strike in October, but entered a mandatory cooling-off period and continued negotiations.

The settlement was with the Tri-Council, which represents workers in Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Saint Paul Regional Water Services. The workers were represented by Teamsters 120, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, and Laborers Local 363.

Troy Gustafson, business agent for Local 120, said they will be back at the bargaining table in less than a year and will be looking for more than the minimal increases that were agreed to in the present contract.

Still unresolved with workers is Mayor Melvin Carter’s new policy mandating that all city employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 31. The policy has faced objections from a wide range of city employees. It does not include a testing option for those who do not want to be vaccinated.

— Jane McClure


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