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Labor contracts ratified (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Nick Busse
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A number of labor contracts negotiated between Minnesota Management and Budget and various state employee unions have been ratified.

Sponsored by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul) and Senate President James Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul), a new law ratifies contracts with workers in organizations as diverse as the Minnesota Nurses Association, the State Board of Investment and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

The legislation comprises the work of the Legislative Coordinating Commission Subcommittee on Employee Relations, which approves negotiated labor agreements. Affected employees or groups include:

• the Minnesota State University Association of Administrative and Service Faculty;

• the executive directors of the Teachers’ Retirement Association, Minnesota State Retirement System and Public Employees Retirement Association;

• the SBI;

• the MNA;

• the Office of the Legislative Auditor; and

• the Inter Faculty Organization.

The law caused some controversy on the House floor, where some members argued the agreed-to salaries do not reflect the current economic downturn.

Referring to a provision that authorizes a 10 percent raise for certain SBI employees, Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) called it “unconscionable” to raise state workers’ salaries at a time of record unemployment.

“We are not a rubber-stamp organization, members; we’re here to do the right thing. And if you consider voting for a 10 percent increase for state employees when the rest of the state of Minnesota is hurting, then I don’t think you understand the idea of the whole concept.”

Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr. (DFL-Crystal) explained that it is an executive-branch initiative to retain “top-notch people” responsible for investing state pension funds.

Supporters of the legislation note that many of the contracts were negotiated prior to the beginning of the recession.

The law has various effective dates.


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