BLOOMINGTON - About 38 members of the city of Bloomington's support staff could go on strike Monday. "Nobody wants to go on strike," said David Penn, business manager for Laborer's Local 362, late Wednesday night.

The union members have not ratified a contract, but the Bloomington City Council unanimously voted earlier this year to implement the conditions of what it called "its last, best offer."

While union members reject the terms of that offer, they are willing to resume negotiations, Penn said.

"We are willing to meet with them tomorrow, Friday, Saturday or Sunday," Penn said Wednesday night.

Having a role in managing health insurance resources for current and retired employees is a central issue, Penn said.

City Manager Tom Hamilton said the decision to strike is a union matter.

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"Whatever they decide to do is their business," Hamilton said. "And we will conduct business as usual on Monday."

Union members voted in December to authorize a strike and recently filed their letter announcing their intention to do so.

Penn said the union wants to work with the city to find the most affordable rates for health insurance for all employees, not just the unionized workers.

"We've got to know they're (the city) is shopping for the best buy," he said.

A related concern is how the city manages a retirement fund used to pay for employees' post-retirement health benefits. The union wants a role in finding better ways to maximize those benefits, he said.

Raises offered in the city's contract for support employees do not cover the increase in health insurance costs employees are being asked to pay, union officials said previously.


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