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Union plow drivers strike in St. Louis County

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DULUTH, MN -- Union snowplow drivers are on strike in St. Louis County where a winter weather advisory has been posted as snow moves into the region.

Teamsters Local 320 official Brian Aldes says the strike in St. Louis County began Wednesday at 7 a.m.

Union members voted overwhelmingly Saturday to reject the county's final contract offer, citing issues over healthcare and accrued sick leave.

"We will strike as long as it's needed. We don't want to be striking but we need to stand up for what's right. Especially with the weather coming this way. We want the roads safe and clear for the drivers but there's also a point we got to stand up for ourselves," Daniel Foshay, an equipment operator with Local Teamsters 320 said Wednesday morning.

County officials have a contingency plan to keep roads plowed. Public works supervisors and staff in other departments are licensed to operate plows.

St. Louis County could see 1-3 inches of snow Wednesday, with 4 inches possible in the southern part of the county, including Duluth.

About 170 plow drivers are picketing at 16 locations.

As some are getting ready for retirement and they say this will have an impact.

Scott Mercier a heavy equipment mechanic said, "We'd all rather be working and doing our jobs, taking care of our community. To keep everybody safe and happy for the rest of the winter here."

This morning plow drivers said they aren't happy this resulted in a strike.

Brian Iverson an operator for St. Louis County says, "We don't take this lightly, we want this to be over with. We want to be able to get the roads plowed. We want to get everything resolved. This is not what we want to do."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director

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Emma Quinn

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