No one wins in a strike. Strikes result in missed paychecks, hard feelings and reduced services.
Sometimes the bitterness that follows lengthy labor disputes lingers for generations. Labor and management agree that whenever strikes can be avoided, everyone is better off for it. That's why Monday's news, that a tentative agreement was reached between state workers and officials in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration, was welcomed all across the state, from Ada to Zumbrota. Although details of the tentative pact will be outlined later this week, union leaders said the settlement includes a pay freeze and higher health care costs for most workers.
The employee health care costs, union officials said, will not be as severe as the ones originally proposed by the state. Both sides should be commended for finding common ground in order to avert a strike. If this settlement is like others, neither side got everything that it wanted, which is often the sign of a good compromise. These are tough economic times for both private and public employees. Everyone is feeling the pinch from an economy that has not yet bounced back to the vigor it displayed in the years that preceded the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The most recent round of labor negotiations brought home the importance of health care costs and emphasized how vital those benefits are to working men and women. Judging from how labor and state officials characterized these negotiations, their differences were all about health care costs. A salary freeze for employees seemed to be a given from the outset.
There might be grumbling from both sides that they had to give up too much, but the state will certainly be better off now that a strike has tentatively been averted.
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