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House votes to ratify state employee union labor agreements, compensation plans

(House Photography file photo)

Approximately 90% of state employees are represented by a union. Most of them could receive some extra appreciation.

Sponsored by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), HF3346, as amended, would ratify certain labor agreements and compensation plans along with memorandums of understanding. Passed 107-24 by the House Monday, it now goes to the Senate where Sen. Mark Koran (R-North Branch) is the sponsor.

The bill comes from the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, which ratified the contracts between Minnesota Management and Budget and the various bargaining units. The bill would cover approximately 39,000 state employees across one of 17 occupationally-based bargaining units, which are represented by one of eleven unions.

“We’re pretty blessed to be one of the best running states in the country. These contracts are a commitment to this," Lillie said at a pre-session news conference. “Just think of the endless jobs that are done by these folks in making Minnesota a success,” Lillie said.

“These employees do incredible work, many of them on the front lines during this pandemic. The essential services they provide for the people of Minnesota makes this a great place to live,” added House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park).

Most contracts are for the 2022-23 biennium, retroactive to July 1, 2021. The change is estimated to cost an additional $459.7 million in the current biennium. Agencies would manage contract costs within already allocated biennial funds.

[MORE: View the contracts summary]

“These were negotiated in good faith; they’re reasonable, fair, and ultimately the compensation increases included in these contracts are comparable to what you’d find in other public entities in the area, and are actually currently below some of the private sector increases that we’re seeing right now,” MMB Commissioner Jim Schowalter told the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee in February.

Groups included in these agreements are:

  • Minnesota Law Enforcement Association;
  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees;
  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Units 8 and 25;
  • Minnesota Association of Professional Employers;
  • Inter Faculty Organization;
  • Minnesota State University Administrative and Service Faculty;
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Personnel Plan for Administrators; 
  • Middle Management Association;
  • State Residential Schools Education Association;
  • Minnesota Nurses Association;
  • Commissioner’s Plan;
  • Managerial Plan;
  • Office of Higher Education Unclassified Personnel Compensation Plan; and
  • MNSure Compensation Plan.

Michelle Weber, executive director of the Legislative Coordinating Commission, told the committee that, in general, contracts include a 2.5% annual increase on July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022; merit increases between 2.6% and 4% for eligible employees; and Juneteenth would be added as a paid holiday.

Among higher education personnel, the Inter Faculty Organization agreement has no salary increases for fiscal year 2022, but a 1.7% increase in fiscal year 2023 and a 2.4% step increase for returning faculty.

The Minnesota State University Administrative and Service Faculty agreement includes a 3.05% step increase for people not at the top of their wage scale on July 1, 2021, a 3% lump sum for members atop their range in lieu of step movement. Merit increases of 2% are included for Minnesota State administrators — unclassified employees in positions which are defined as managerial by the Board of Trustees —effective July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022.

The Minnesota Law Enforcement Association agreement is for the 2020-21 biennium, retroactive to July 1, 2019, and includes a 2.25% across the board increase in fiscal year 2020 and 2.25% in fiscal year 2021 along with some step increases.

“[It] also incorporates some legislative changes that were passed during the 2021 special session, which included an 8.45% increase in salary for all employees, effective Oct. 22, 2022, and a 10.45% salary increase for employees at the top of their salary range,” Weber said.

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