Minneapolis Public Works strike approved by 98% of workers

More than 400 workers for the City of Minneapolis have voted to authorize a strike throughout its Public Works department.

More than 400 workers for the City of Minneapolis represented by LIUNA Local 363 have voted to authorize a strike throughout its Public Works department.

Following a 98% vote of approval, the union will return to mediation on Feb. 22 to discuss the terms of a new contract for workers, after their current one expired on Dec. 31, 2023. Following the notice to strike, there will be a 10-day cooling-off period before the strike could begin.

Public Works employees represent several facets of city operations, including maintaining water treatment and sewage, trash, recycling, lighting, roads, and bridges.

But after years of unprecedented challenges such as a global health crisis, civil unrest, and city-wide encampments of the unhoused, workers are hoping to earn better wages and worker protections.

"We are not trained to deal with people experiencing a mental health crisis. We are not trained to de-escalate. We’ve had multiple people get stuck with needles. The City has to do more to keep us safe while we’re working," said Monica Smith, president of LIUNA Local 363 and a Public Works employee, in a statement following the vote. 

Specifically, as part of a new contract, city workers are seeking a market adjustment and cost of living adjustment totaling roughly 32% (depending on job title), improved health and safety protections, affordable and equitable health insurance options, and addressing staffing and scheduling issues that cause worker burnout.
Workers allege that throughout the last three years they have lost more than 10% in real wages due to inflation. 

"Enough is enough," said AJ Lange, Business Manager of LIUNA Local 363 in a statement. "After everything we've endured, city leaders must show if they stand with public employees now. Our workforce can't take any more disrespect. Vital services are on the line."

According to LIUNA Local 363 representatives, more than ten rounds of mediation have occurred since October 2023, prior to the strike authorization.

"The LIUNA Local 363 bargaining committee has lost faith in the City’s ability to engage in constructive dialogue and take these critically important issues seriously," said Liz Xiong, Communications Director and Political Coordinator with LIUNA Local 363, in a statement.

In a statement provided by FOX 9, city representatives say, "The City has only learned of Laborer’s Local 363’s vote on regarding a potential strike through media outlets. LiUNA Local 363 has not provided formal notice. The City of Minneapolis recognizes and appreciates the hard work City staff represented by LIUNA Local 363 conduct each day on behalf of our residents. We continue to bargain in good faith and work toward a fair and equitable contract for these employees. While we are taking necessary precautions and developing contingency plans to minimize disruptions in the event of a strike, our primary focus remains reaching a swift and amicable resolution that avoids such an outcome."