Strike looms for St. Louis County in northern MN

Burgeoning labor troubles in the state’s largest geographic county are coming to light. The St. Louis County unit of AFSCME has authorized a strike as contract negotiations appear stalled after a meeting with a state mediator on Friday. There is a 10-day “cooling off” period before a strike would begin. The hope is that negotiations would prevent a strike.

AFSCME workers represent about two-thirds of St. Louis County’s workforce, including many of the “day to day” workers like plow drivers, maintenance and office staff.

St. Louis County includes Duluth and a majority of the Mesabi and Vermilion iron ranges. The county stretches from Lake Superior to the Canadian border and employs many people. There is a political divide between the north and south, with the Duluth area holding four of the seven spots on the county board. This has caused more than one Iron Range commissioner or politico to suggest a country split over the years, an idea that’s never gone very far.

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