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Minneapolis Park Board workers prepare to begin week-long strike July 4

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
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July 3, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board needs to invest in the workers who maintain its top-ranked-in-the-nation park system. That’s the message delivered by LIUNA City Employees Local 363 which announced plans July 2 for a one-week strike beginning July 4. 

Local 363 and the Park Board have been negotiating for seven months on the terms of a new contract.

After a 16-hour negotiation session Monday ended without a contract agreement, the Park Board refused to accept additional negotiations offered by the union, Local 363 business manager A.J. Lange reported at a July 2 news conference announcing the strike.

Lange said the Park Board wage offer was insufficient plus the Park Board is seeking contract concessions that threaten workers’ basic rights.

And while the union has moved towards some of the Park Board’s proposals, Lange said, management has not responded in kind.

In addition, Lange said, workers are being threatened by management with retaliation if they do go on strike, including threats of a lock-out and demotions.

“Minneapolis is better than this,” Lange said, calling out Park Board management’s “illegal, reckless, anti-union behavior.”

Absent a last-minute agreement, Local 363 plans to kick-off a strike July 4 and invites other union supporters and community supporters to join them in solidarity:

Thursday, July 4
United Labor Centre parking lot
312 Central Ave SE

1:00-5:30 pm Family-friendly barbecue
4:30-5:30 pm Rally
5:30-7:30 pm March and Picket

(In case of rain, the barbecue and rally will be moved inside the United Labor Centre).

Local 363 also encourages union supporters and community supporters to contact the Minneapolis Park Board commissioners and urge them to support a fair contract for park board workers. To send a message, visit

AJ Lange, Local 363 business manager
A.J. Lange, Local 363 business manager, speaking at the July 2 news conference at the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers offices announcing the Park Board workers strike: "We don't want to do this — it's the Park Board forcing us into this situation."

Lange said a strike would be a first-ever for Minneapolis Park Board workers: “We don’t want to do this—it’s the Park Board forcing us into this situation.”

Lange implored the Park Board to come back to the negotiating table with an offer “that reflects the fair value of our work.”

Local 363 represents about 300 workers who care for the parks, park buildings and park facilities, and the trees along the city’s streets and parkways.

Local 363 members worked throughout the pandemic and the period of civil unrest following the police murder of George Floyd.

“We worked hard every day,” said Lanel Lane, who has worked 10 years for the Minneapolis Park Board.

Yet wages for Minneapolis Park Board workers lag $8 per hour behind surrounding cities, Lange said. “They don’t have a justification for their low wages.” And, he added, the Park Board is sitting on $30 million in reserves.

The Park Board recently approved a 10 percent wage increase for the Park superintendent Al Bangoura, Lange noted. And although the pay for the park system’s executive positions has outpaced inflation, Lange said, “our positions have not.”

“We’re not asking for special treatment,” Lange said at a June 25 rally in front of the Park superintendent’s Park Board-provided home. “We’re asking for fair treatment… We’re not asking to get ahead — we’re asking to stay afloat.”

As a park-keeper, Lane told the July 2 news conference, his typical day starts at 5:00 a.m. “We clean, we pick up trash, we put down the lines for your games …”

Every morning, Lane said, he checks playground equipment to make sure bolts are safely tightened and checks to be sure sand-boxes are free of dangerous contaminants. “You’re dealing with blood, needles, vomit, poop,” he said.

“It’s all in love for the city,” said Lane, who reported growing up at Phelps and Powderhorn parks.

But, Lane said, he doesn’t just live paycheck to paycheck: “I have been living a paycheck BEHIND living paycheck to paycheck.”

Lanel Lane
Park-keeper Lanel Lane, who spoke at the July 2 news conference and June 25  rally: "I have been living a paycheck BEHIND living paycheck to paycheck."

If the strike goes ahead as planned, Local 363 and supporters will be picketing but they will NOT be asking park users to stay away from the parks.

“We love our parks,” Local 363 business manager A.J. Lange said. “We want to minimize the disruption to the residents as much as possible.”

At the June 25 rally, Lange offered two messages.

To Park Board superintendent Bangoura and the Park Board Commissioners: “The power to avoid this strike is in your hands.”

To community residents: “’we ask for your support and understanding.”

Local 363 member Nick Grebe, an arborist and crew leader, came to the June 25 rally with his wife and two young children. He has worked five years for the Minneapolis park system. “We live in Minneapolis. Our kids go to the Minneapolis Public Schools. I work for the Park Board because I want to take care of my city’s forest,” he said.

“I could work a lot of other places, but I like being a public servant,” Grebe continued. He added: “I still need to make my bills and I still need to feed my kids.”

Nick Grebe and family
Local 363 member Nick Grebe and family came to a June 25 rally. "I work for the Park Board because I want to take care of my city's forest," he said. "I still need to make by bills and I still need to feed my kids."






June 25 picket outside park superintendent's home
CIty Employees Local 363 members and supporters picketed June 25 outside the Park Board superintendent's Park Board-provided home.
Scott Yaeger
Local 363 member Scott Yaeger, arborist, spoke at the June 25 rally. "We work too hard to be forced to accept take-aways." With Minneapolis Park Board wages lagging behind other cities, he said Minneapolis Park Board workers are fighting to get back "a middle class job that was stolen from us."
Assembling picket signs
Volunteers from other unions came to the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers offices to help assemble picket signs as City Employees Local 363 prepares to strike at the Minneapolis Park Board.