"I am here as a Carlton County Public Health and Human Services employee, to ask you, the Carlton County Commissioners, to reconsider your vote to declare our union negotiations at an impasse," Rebecca Bosanko, AFSCME Local 2750 Vice President said to the board during a regular meeting Tuesday, May 14. "We do not believe that we are at an impasse and all we would like is for the opportunity to return to the negotiation table."

AFSCME Local 2750 is one of seven unions that cover Carlton County employees.

She explained to the board what happened since negotiations began August of 2018. The county proposed six items and the union eight items. They reached a tentative agreement on four of the items. Six items were dropped at the union's request, leaving retiree health insurance benefits and wages on the table.

There are about 100 people in the Health and Human Services and Restorative Justice offices that are affected by this contract, which ended Dec. 31, 2018.

After more meetings the issues were still not resolved. On Nov. 27 the employer presented their final offer. The union presented the offer to the employees for a vote. They voted not to accept the offer. After requests by the union for another meeting went unanswered, on March 22 a letter was sent to the union representative stating the employer and union were at an impasse.

When there is an impasse, the last best offer entered by the employer is adopted as the new contract, Dennis Genereau explained. Genereau is the chief negotiator for the employer, Carlton County. He said the employees can choose to either accept the offer or take the employer to court to seek a ruling that the parties are not at an impasse, or they can choose to strike.

The commissioners decided to go into a closed session at the end of the meeting and discuss the request to reopen negotiations.

According to Genereau, the commissioners agreed in the closed session to Bosankos request and instructed the negotiations to continue to see if an agreement can be worked out.