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Legislative subcommittee recommends rejection of MAPE's contract

Updated 10/11/2016

The Legislature’s Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER) denied interim implementation of MAPE’s and AFSCME’s 2017-19 proposed contracts at a hearing Thursday at the State Office Building in St. Paul.

SER Chet Jorgenson

In the photo on the right, Statewide President Chet Jorgenson encourages the legislative subcommittee to approve MAPE's 2017-19 contract.

SER voted 6-4 to recommend that the Legislature not approve MAPE’s and AFSCME’s contracts. The vote denies interim implementation of the contracts. The two contracts cover approximately 29,000 state employees. MAPE’s 2015-17 contract remains in effect.

MAPE will not go back to the bargaining table with its 2017-19 proposed contract. MAPE's 2017-19 proposed contract will be presented to the full Legislature next year for approval.

SER Lynn Butcher

On the left in the photo to the right, Negotiations Team member Lynn Butcher testifies during the hearing on MAPE's contract.

SER voted twice strictly along party lines, with six Republicans voting against the two bargaining agreements and four Democrats voting in favor. The first vote, offered by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), would have approved the contracts. That vote failed. SER then voted to reject the contracts.

SER members voting to reject MAPE’s contract were:

Senators -- Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), Mark Koran (R-Stacy) and Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson). Representatives -- Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake), Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Jeff Howe (R-Rockville).

SER members voting to approve MAPE’s contract were:

Senators -- Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center) and Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth). Representatives -- Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) and Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul).

SER Cindy Ernhart

In the photo on the right, MAPE member Cindy Ernhart of Local 1101 testifies during the hearing on MAPE's contract.

MAPE's 2017-19 contract calls for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase retroactive to July 1 and a 2.25 percent wage increase on July 1, 2018. Step increases are included each year for those who are eligible.

Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake), SER chair, and Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) grilled Deputy Commissioner Edwin Hudson, Minnesota Management and Budget, about fiscal issues and wage increases.

Hudson was asked if the Legislature had appropriated adequate funds to cover the wage increases. Hudson said agencies were directed to allow for a 1 percent increase in their budgets, he then pointed to "significant" savings with lower health-care premiums that will cover the rest of the cost.

Benson objected to using the health-care savings to pay for wage increases.

"We made a very informed decision and we believe these contracts are affordable," Hudson said. "Having competitive wages goes a long way to making Minnesota an employer of choice."

SER Senator Simonson

On the right in the photo on the right, Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) chides the legislative majority for micro-managing state employee contracts. Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center) looks on.

“We need to be fiscally responsible,” O’Neill said.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) pointed out that O’Neill filed a lawsuit against House Republican leadership earlier this year to get a legislative pay raise of 45 percent. The raise had been set by a constitutionally mandated salary council.

“I believe that this absolutely, absolutely is a valid contract that should have been approved by this body,” Hilstrom said. “I think it’s shameful what’s being done today.”

Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) chided the legislative majority for the direction of the discussion. "Our role is not to micro-manage," he said. He pointed out that negotiations are carried out by the executive branch in good faith. "These are the people who do the work."

Nearly 98 percent of MAPE’s members voted in August to approve our 2017-19 proposed agreement. Covering nearly 14,500 MAPE employees, the proposed agreement also includes lower-than-expected health care costs and an improved dental program. Our new contract includes up to six weeks of paid parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child for eligible state employees.

For more information on MAPE’s 2017-19 contract, go here:

In the photo below, MAPE members packed the room at the State Office Building during the hearing on MAPE's and AFSCME's contracts.

MAPE members at SER