South Dakota law: Public employees aren't entitled to strike

Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 7:10 PM CST
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Parts of the Midwest could see up to 12 inches of snow in the upcoming days. This snow is a bit untimely for northern Minnesota's St. Louis County and union snowplow drivers have gone on strike as of Wednesday.

I wasn't able to speak with a driver today since they were out getting prepared for the incoming snow. Sioux Falls officials said the city's relationship with their drivers is in very good standing and the action of striking, isn't an option here.

“The relationship with our plow drivers and all the employees represented by the ASMA Union is very good,” said Human Resources Manager Reid Holsen.

Snowplow drivers in Sioux Falls are a combination of union employees and contractors.

”We believe the pay and benefits as negotiated in these labor contracts are well done and both sides have agreed on those and consider those to be equitable,” said Holsen.

According to South Dakota state law, public employees actually aren't entitled to strike.

”Public safety is important we need our police officers, our operators of our water plants, our snowplow drivers, everybody to be at work. So, it's good policy with state law to make sure that the public is continued to be safe,” said Holsen.

The city has about 250 people who hold commercial driver's licenses to drive snowplows and when it snows, it's all hands on deck.

“We call in people from the parks and rec department and other departments across the city to get the streets cleared,” said Holsen.

“Last year was a tough year on us, you know, we had event after event but our guys are resilient and everyone kind of just shows up to whatever event it is and we live in a pretty good city that way,” said Street Manager Dustin Hansen.

Sioux Falls plow drivers measure the ground they cover through lane miles.

“We have almost 3,300 lane miles. So, yeah it is like traveling from here to Anchorage and back,” said Holsen.

They typically try to get that many lane miles covered in a day or two and even though the city's fully staffed they said they can always use drivers, you just need to have a commercial driver's license.

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