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Unions reach tentative deal with Hennepin County, averting possible strike

Union members will vote on the deal Wednesday.

The unions representing Hennepin County clerical workers have reached a tentative agreement with its employer, which, if approved, would prevent a strike next week.

AFSCME Local 2822 announced Thursday it had reached a tentative contract agreement with Hennepin County, while Local 34 reached an agreement Wednesday. Both bargaining units represent clerical and service workers with Hennepin County.

As part of the agreement, workers will not have to pay back the “paid leave debt” some incurred during the pandemic.

This meant that anyone who had no PTO left effectively went into "negative PTO" when they took extra time off after either being furloughed, getting COVID-19, or otherwise being required to stay home.

Union members will vote on the contract Wednesday, the same day the strike was slated to begin without a deal. 

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“Workers sick with COVID, parents caring for children during school closures and workers temporarily furloughed took this debt on to survive,” Local 2822 President Ali Fuhrman said in a statement.

“We want to be clear: this was put on the table for us because 34 and 2822 rejected the contract and threatened a strike.”

The deal also includes a 2.5% wage increase for all workers, on top of a 3% increase that applies to most workers. 

Workers will also receive $500 in “pandemic recognition pay,” an increase in paternal leave from 3 weeks to 6 weeks and more flexibility for funeral leave. 

Hennepin County said: "Hennepin County is thankful for the hard work and good faith demonstrated by employees on both sides of the bargaining table. We are hopeful that Local 34 and Local 2822 will ratify this recommended Mediated Settlement Proposal."

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