Duluth city workers say ‘We want to work!’

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City of Duluth workers held a “We want to work” protest Monday, when Mayor Don Ness shut down city services for a day.

To address a city budget shortfall, Ness already shut down government on November 10 and will do so again December 26 and 31.

“AFSCME members want to work,” the union representing city workers said in announcing Monday’s action.

“The city employees who will be forced out of work for four days would prefer to be serving the public. Laid-off park and library workers would like to return to work. Zookeepers, who have been told that they will be laid off by year’s end, would like to keep their jobs, but their work is being contracted out to non-union replacements.”

City employees have been told that if they want to get paid for Monday’s furlough, they must take a day of vacation, the union said.

“AFSCME members want to provide the services that Duluth residents want and need, but Mayor Ness wants to shrink and shutdown government,” explained Eliot Seide, director of AFSCME Council 5.

Council 5 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represents 43,000 public and non-profit workers throughout Minnesota, including 522 of about 800 workers employed by the City of Duluth.