About 2,500 unionized Metro Transit workers, including bus drivers and light-rail operators, will vote this weekend on whether to strike during Super Bowl festivities next February.
The strike-authorization vote on Sunday and Monday by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005 comes after six months of contract negotiations with the Metropolitan Council, which operates Metro Transit buses and LRT.
In the 10 days leading up to Super Bowl LII, one of the world's most watched sports events, dozens of parties and events are expected to attract more than 1 million enthusiasts, many of whom will depend on public transit to get around.
Met Council officials are optimistic that a contract can be reached before then.
ATU members will also vote on a final three-year contract offer. Contract talks between the union and the Met Council have resulted in disagreements over work rules and on-the-job security for bus drivers, in particular, according to Local 1005 President Mark Lawson.
"Bus drivers are getting attacked, and they don't seem very concerned about it," Lawson said.
Union members have also expressed concerns about outsourcing repair work of equipment that has historically been done in-house.
ATU members attended an Oct. 25 Met Council meeting brandishing placards and wearing union T-shirts. ATU President-elect Ryan Timlin accused the council of "feet dragging. We're tired of this." Members of the regional planning body did not comment at the time.
In a statement, Met Council spokeswoman Kate Brickman said, "We value the work of ATU members and their contribution to our region. We are currently negotiating in good faith through a mediator and are confident we'll reach an agreement satisfactory to both parties."
A mediator from the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services has been working with both sides during contract talks to get a deal.
The last time transit Metro Transit workers went on strike was 2004, in a walkout that lasted about six weeks.