Virginia Public Works Employees May Soon Strike

By KBJR News 1

March 15, 2012 Updated Mar 15, 2012 at 7:23 PM CDT

VIRGINIA, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---Virginia Public Works employees are on the verge of a strike after they rejected the city's most recent contract offer earlier this week.

City workers in AFSCME Local 454 filed a second notice of intent to strike earlier this month that would have allowed a strike to begin last Tuesday.

The issues between city workers and council are centered around wages and healthcare insurance.

The last wage increase for the 46 member union was in 2009.

Spokespeople on both sides say they'd like to avoid a strike and are planning to set up mediation sessions in an attempt to come to terms.

Union members are meeting Thursday evening to discuss strategy for moving forward.

"The cost of health insurance is going up, the cost of gas is going up, the cost of food is going up," Ida Rukavina, Representative of AFSCME Local 454 said. "As the wages are staying the same, while the costs are going up, we just feel we need some more fair compensation."

Negotiations have been going on since 2010 when the employee contract expired.

Virginia Mayor Steve Peterson says he optimistic an agreement can be reached before a strike happens.

Jennifer Walch
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