– As promised, Teamsters Local 320 filed an intent to strike with the state on New Year’s Day, which could see St. Louis County plow drivers and other public works employees walking out after a 10-day “cooling-off” period.

If state mediation fails during that time, “then the county employees are permitted to strike on any future date,” the union said in a statement. “An internal union process will determine when employees are to begin a work stoppage.”

Union members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike last month after contract negotiations broke down. The current contract expired at the end of the year, though it will continue to be in effect for the 168 covered employees until a new deal is reached.

“We remain hopeful that a strike can be averted and a contract agreement will be successfully reached that is fair to our employees and fair to our taxpayers,” St. Louis County spokeswoman Dana Kazel said in a statement.

The strike possibility comes as Duluth recorded its third-snowiest calendar year on record.

“Our citizens should be assured that in the event of a strike, the county will continue to plow roads, using supervisors and other staff who are licensed and qualified to plow,” Kazel said.

Brooks Johnson