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Union, Minn. city reach tentative agreement in Hibbing labor dispute

HIBBING, Minn. -- The union representing most of the city of Hibbing’s public employees has reached a tentative contract agreement with the city, likely averting a strike that could have started later this week.

The deal, which still must be ratified by the membership of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 791 as well as by the Hibbing City Council, was reached after a marathon 11-hour mediated session Friday, said Steve Giorgi, associate director of AFSCME Council 65.

“We came to a settlement, a tentative agreement, and both negotiating committees will be taking that back with a recommendation for acceptance,” he said. “The parties were able to find some middle ground.”

Among the sticking points in negotiations were workers’ insurance premiums, Giorgi said.

AFSCME Local 791 covers 65 workers — essentially all city employees with the exception of administration, police officers and firefighters.

The union and city had been negotiating since November to replace a contract that expired Dec. 31. On Jan. 3, the union filed a notice of intent to strike that would have made its members eligible to strike as soon as Tuesday.

Instead, union members will vote on the tentative agreement Wednesday, Giorgi said.

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