State union delays strike; date set for Oct. 1

Jessica Thompson

In response to Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, Minnesota state and union officials agreed Wednesday to postpone contract negotiations intended to deter a statewide employee strike.

Earlier this month, more than 29,000 Minnesota workers – 60 percent of the state government’s workforce – threatened to strike Sept. 17 if their demands for increased wages and health care benefits were not met by the state.

The deadline for a potential strike has been moved to Oct. 1.

“Although we may disagree at the bargaining table, we do agree that we all need time to heal from the shock of the terrorism,” said negotiation leaders from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, in a statement released Wednesday.

“Due to the horrific circumstances of the tragic loss of life … we believe it is necessary to come together and unite as a state and nation,” they said.

About one-third of the University’s 14,330 employees have joined in state employees’ protests over contract offers for 2001-2003. They oppose the University’s decision last semester to switch from the state’s health care plan to a self-insured plan, which they say has hidden costs for employees.

Union members stressed in the release that the postponement is not “a capitulation or a weakening of … members’ resolve to achieve a fair contract.”

They added, “If anything, this will intensify that resolve.”

Negotiations between state and union officials have been rescheduled for Sept. 27, 28, and 29.

– Jessica Thompson