State employees ratify new, two-year contracts

Two of Minnesota’s largest public worker unions – AFSCME Council 5 and MAPE – have ratified new, two-year contracts covering more than 30,000 workers employed by the State of Minnesota.
MAPE ratified its contract with support from nearly 98 percent of the workers who voted. AFSCME ratified its contract with support from 95 percent of the workers who voted.
The tentative agreements include a 2 percent raise retroactive to July 1; another 2.25 percent raise effective July 1, 2018; and step increases both years.
Lower than expected health care costs and a new pharmacy benefits manager allowedMAPE and AFSCME to improve health care while investing in dental benefits.  A new pilot program will help people with chronic conditions get the right care at the right time. It’s called Value Based Insurance Design and it will focus on diabetes for the first two years, with the potential to cover other chronic conditions in the future.  The program will reduce member out-of-pocket costs for office visits, lab fees and prescription drugs. The program will also reduce hospitalizations and other costly complications of diabetes. Nearly 6,000 workers and their adult dependents are eligible for this new pilot.   
The contracts also guarantee six weeks of paid parental leave, a benefit that will give parents priceless time to bond with newborn and adopted children. The employer estimates that 500 mothers and fathers will take advantage of this recruitment and retention benefit each year.
Both unions unanimously recommended ratification of the tentative agreements. Last week, AFSCME members had the opportunity to vote on the tentative contract, either through mail ballots or at one of 72 voting sites throughout the state. MAPE members statewide voted electronically Aug. 2-14. Ballots were counted Aug. 14.
“Bargaining involves give and take between labor and management,” said Tim Henderson, chief negotiator for AFSCME Council 5. “The employer didn’t get everything it wanted – and our union didn’t get everything we wanted. But this is a fair deal for hardworking state employees and Minnesota taxpayers. Union members are relieved to have a new contract and they’re proud to do Minnesota’s work.”
“This is a fair contract for employees and the Minnesotans we serve,” MAPE President Chet Jorgenson said. “We were able to reach key agreements on paid parental leave, professional development and other items necessary to build a 21st century workforce which, in turn, will help the state recruit and retain the next generation of public servants.”
The tentative agreement will be forwarded by Minnesota Management and Budget to the legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations, which will make a recommendation to the Legislature on whether to approve the contract. If the subcommittee chooses to act, it must do so within 30 days of official filing from MMB. By majority vote, the subcommittee can vote to approve or not approve the contract on an interim basis. If the it doesn’t approve the contract, the unions will continue to operate under the terms their 2015-2017 contracts until the Legislature acts next year.
MAPE’s contract for 2017-19 covers 14,540 IT professionals, foresters, probation officers, psychologists, scientists, zoologists and other state government employees.
AFSCME’s contract for 2017-19 covers 15,504 craft, service, health care, clerical and technical workers. In addition, AFSCME’s correctional officers and radio communications operators have separate contracts with the state.   

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