Council drops masks; reopens labor vote


May 21, 2021

Cloquet City councilors voted Tuesday to repeal the city’s ordinance requiring face coverings, and reconsider their vote on the repeal of the Cloquet project labor agreement passed two weeks ago.

The repeal of the requirement to wear a mask indoors in public spaces came as no surprise, as Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order May 14 to undo the state’s mask mandate. The order came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its own announcement, stating that people who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks inside or outside in most cases.

Businesses and other organizations can still require people to wear masks indoors. People will still be required to wear masks in the public areas at City Hall, said city administrator Tim Peterson.

There are other exceptions: People in a medical building will still need to mask. So will those using public transportation. And schools will continue to follow state education department guidance that requires masks in school buildings until the end of the academic year, in particular because children ages 11 and younger are not yet eligible for vaccinations against Covid-19.

The repeal of the mask ordinance passed unanimously with no comments from the council Tuesday, and led immediately into a discussion of returning to in-person city council meetings starting at 6 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of the month.

Ward 1 councilor Bun Carlson moved to reopen the meetings effective June 1, the next meeting date.

“It’s probably time,” Ward 3 councilor Chris Swanson said. “We’ve had an opportunity to get vaccinated and people can certainly wear face coverings during meetings.”

Mayor Roger Maki wondered if the city would still place pandemic restrictions on those attending in terms of numbers, social distancing and masks.

Peterson suggested there was space to maintain social distancing between councilors and staff and a few residents, adding that they could limit the number of people allowed in the council chambers itself if there were a crowd, and the remainder would have to stand in the lobby outside the chambers.

PLA vote reopened

Also Tuesday, Ward 2 Councilor Sheila Lamb moved to reconsider the council’s repeal of the city’s project labor agreement “after further investigation and discussion with the city of Duluth and some of the unions.”

Lamb was one of the four councilors who voted for the repeal at the May 4 meeting, along with Kerry Kolodge (who was absent Tuesday), Lara Wilkinson and Mayor Roger Maki.

City administrator Tim Peterson said Lamb was following the correct process, explaining that a person from the prevailing side can make a motion at the very next meeting to reconsider a vote taken at the previous meeting. He explained the vote would not be on repealing the PLA, rather on taking up the discussion again.

After that vote passed 4:2 (with Wilkinson and Maki dissenting), Peterson recommended the council table the discussion until the June 1 meeting, so the PLA could be discussed by the entire council since Kolodge was absent. That vote passed unanimously.

The original impetus for the staff recommendation to repeal the PLA came from a lawsuit filed in January against the cities of Cloquet, Duluth and Two Harbors and the Western Lake Superior Sanitary Sewer District.

Generally, under the terms of a PLA, construction unions have bargaining rights to determine the wage rates and benefits of all employees working on a project. The terms of the agreement apply to all contractors and subcontractors working on the project, although they do not have to be union companies themselves. PLAs also typically require that employees hired for the project are referred through union hiring halls — in this case, the Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council. The council removed the part of the PLA that required workers to remain in or join a union earlier this year.


Fourth of July parade is a go

As the state rolls back pandemic restrictions, the Cloquet Fourth of July celebration is opening up.

In addition to the previously announced fireworks, the Fourth of July committee got approval from the city council Tuesday to also hold a parade down the usual route in downtown Cloquet. Other events planned for the day include the Sawdust 5K, the annual car show at the NorthEastern Saloon and Hotel on Dunlap Island and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Pinehurst Park.

Not included in the plans, according to committee members, are any of the organized activities at Veterans Park, including the children’s games during the day and the movie at night, because children ages 11 and younger are not yet eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine. Coordinator Alyson Leno reached out to public agencies and healthcare organizations that concurred with that decision.


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