Hibbing employees file intent to strike
By Tom Olsen, Forum News Service
HIBBING — A union that represents most of the city of Hibbing’s public employees has filed a notice of intent to strike after several failed mediation sessions.
AFSCME Local 791 filed the notice with the Bureau of Mediation Services on Friday, making the union eligible to strike as soon as Jan. 14.
The union covers 65 workers in the departments of public works, sanitation, library, city hall, planning and zoning, engineering, police, wastewater, cemetery, Memorial Ice Arena and parks and recreation — essentially all city employees with the exception of administration, police officers and firefighters.
The union and city had been negotiating since November to replace a contract that expired Dec. 31, said Steve Giorgi, associate director of AFSCME Council 65.
The state Bureau of Mediation Services was called in last month to assist in negotiations, but union leaders and city administration have been unable to come to an agreement on insurance premiums and wage increases, Giorgi said. Early last month, a tentative agreement was in place, but it was rejected by the union.
Hibbing City Administrator Tom Dicklich said he had just received news of the notice and limited his initial comments to a statement.
“The city has been and will continue to negotiate in good faith to keep all avenues of discussion open to avoid any discontinuation of services to the residents of Hibbing,” Dicklich said.Under BMS regulations, the union must wait through a 10-day “cooling-off period” before it can initiate any strike.