Largest bargaining unit for St. Louis County employees approves three-year contract 

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 Administration • 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Room 202 • Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: (218) 726-2450 •

Kevin Z. Gray
County Administrator




December 20, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Kazel, Communications Manager

218-725-5049 (office) • 218-591-2219 (cell)


Largest bargaining unit for St. Louis County employees approves three-year contract 

St. Louis County’s two largest bargaining units, the Civil Service Basic Unit and Merit System Basic Unit, have voted to accept a three-year contract offer for 2020-2022. Both units are represented by AFSCME Council 5, and together covers more than 1,100 county positions from all departments – approximately 62% of the county’s workforce.


The new contract includes wage increases of 2% in 2020, 2.25% in 2021, and 2.25% in 2022. Perhaps more significantly in the face of ever increasing health insurance costs, the parties also agreed to transition to a uniform health insurance premium share arrangement, replacing variations of premium splits negotiated nearly 30 years ago.


“We are pleased to have reached this agreement, and appreciate the efforts of AFSCME throughout the negotiating process,” said Kevin Gray, St. Louis County administrator. “We value our employees and the tremendous service they provide to our citizens, and always strive to compensate them in a way that is fair and makes us seen as an attractive employer while also balancing the impact that any contract settlement will have on our property tax payers.”


Additional details of the contract include: as part of the uniform health insurance premium share arrangement, employees with single coverage will pay 9% of the total premium or 18% of the total premium if they have family coverage. Members of the Civil Service Basic Unit, which will be seeing increased employee cost for their monthly family insurance premiums, will receive an additional $0.40 per hour in addition to the agreed upon wage increases, as an offset to these increased costs.


Further, the parties also agreed to three weeks of paid parental leave and to compress salary ranges starting in 2022 for Civil Service Basic Unit employees and increase the frequency of how often those employees progress through the range. Salary ranges for both units received an additional longevity step to ensure long-term attraction and retention of staff.


The settlements will be presented to the County Board for ratification later in January.