A trio of unions representing more than 250 St. Paul city workers are poised to go on strike if ongoing negotiations fail.

Members rejected a two-year contract offer Tuesday in search of higher wage increases. The next day, leaders of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 363, Teamsters Local 120 and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49 — representing those who drive snowplows, fix sewers, maintain parks and others — filed an intent to strike with the state Bureau of Mediation Services. Laborers could go on strike as soon as Oct. 19, following a mandatory cooling-off period, BMS Commissioner Janet Johnson said.

Union officials said they are continuing negotiations with the city and noted that a strike will not necessarily start Oct. 19 just because it's authorized.

But they also said the terms offered by the city — no wage increase for the first year of the contract and a 1.5% increase the second year — are not fair for workers. Local 49 Business Manager Jason George said that members "overwhelmingly" voted to reject the city's latest offer.

"Our people have stepped up in a way that we've never seen before" through the pandemic and the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, said Tony Kelly, business manager for LiUNA 363. "It just seems like the employers are not similarly stepping up and recognizing the sacrifices that people have made."

City spokesman Peter Leggett said workers also were offered a "one-time, lump-sum payment" roughly equal to a 2.5% wage increase in 2021.

"Our city workers demonstrate their dedication to our residents and businesses every day," Leggett said in a statement. "Alongside our residents, the mayor is grateful for their service, and we remain hopeful that our ongoing discussions will lead to a positive resolution."

A union can file an intent to strike following at least 45 days of labor mediation, according to state law.

That triggers a 10-day cooling-off period, after which workers may strike.

Public works employees in Minneapolis also recently voted to authorize a strike, though Johnson said union leaders there have not filed with the state to do so.

Additionally, about 150 members of Local 49 who operate wastewater treatment plants for the Metropolitan Council unanimously authorized a strike Thursday, George said. The union still is in its required mediation period.

Met Council spokesman John Schadl said in a statement: "We are committed to our employees and have reached voluntary settlements with all other groups who represent employees in our Environmental Services. … We are negotiating in good faith and hope to reach a voluntary settlement that is both fair and responsible."

Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478