The union representing snowplow drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport gave notice Wednesday they intend to go on strike.
The looming strike comes amid stalled contract negotiations with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC). The union, Teamsters Local 320, represents 94 plow drivers who clear snow off the runways, streets and sidewalks at MSP Airport.
There's a mandatory 10-day cooling-off period before the strike can begin. During this, representatives from both sides will return to mediation to see if they can reach a deal before the strike.
“It’s our hope that we can reach a deal in mediation,” Sami Gabriel of Teamsters Local 320 said in a statement. “Nobody wants a strike, but the significant disparities that exist between union employees at the MAC cannot continue to compound.”
Union members authorized a strike by a 95% margin in December 2021 after they remained at an impasse with MAC regarding pay raises and severance days. The union said Local 320 members get 85 days of severance, while all other MAC employees get 200. And Local 320 members haven't been offered the same compensation increase in labor negotiations as other employees.
But in a comment issued Wednesday, MAC Board Chair Rick King argued that MSP plow drivers are the "best paid" in the area, with many earning "more than $100,000 a year."
King continued to criticize the union members for appearing to be willing to "disrupt the air transportation system rather than reach a reasonable settlement at the bargaining table."
“The offer we made to Teamsters Local 320 exceeds the wage settlement that the Teamsters reached recently with the City of St. Paul’s snowplow operators and that the City of Minneapolis reached with their snowplow drivers, who are represented by the Laborers Union and Operating Engineers, Local 49," King said.
MAC says the median gross pay for an "average snow season" is nearly $90,000. The plow drivers maintain the grounds at all seven MAC airports in Minnesota.
Officials with MAC say they've reached a tentative agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 that clears snow around aircraft near the terminal, as well as other airport facilities.