MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Public defenders are poised to go on strike as early as Tuesday across Minnesota over workloads and pay.

Unionized attorneys say they've been pushed to the brink by routinely high caseloads that have become unmanageable amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A strike could bring much of Minnesota's state court system to a standstill if it persists.

Legal system observers say the same pressures are being felt across the country - and it's the poorest defendants who get hurt, mostly people of color.

Negotiators are scheduled to sit down with a state mediator starting Friday in hopes of averting a strike.