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Executive branch labor agreements, compensation plans gain committee support

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

About 90% of the state’s roughly 50,000 executive branch employees are represented by one of 17 occupationally based bargaining units.

Agreement packages negotiated with Minnesota Management and Budget means all are in line for a potential pay increase in each year of this biennium.

“These contracts 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,” said Jim Schowalter, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget. “As we seek to provide high-quality public services, we must be able to recruit and retain a qualified workforce in an increasingly tight labor market.”

Approved with strong bipartisan support Tuesday by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee, HF3346 was sent to the full House.

“I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done in the last year, and a lot of that is because of the star employees that we have. These contracts are so important (to) make sure our team is happy at work,” said Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), the bill sponsor. He said a couple contracts are still outstanding.

Including salary increases, steps, FICA, insurance and pension, the bill would result in an estimated 5.37% base increase ($417.22 million) for the current biennium that ends June 30, 2023. Schowalter said the proposed increases are “manageable” within current agency budget appropriations.

Michelle Weber is executive director of the Legislative Coordinating Commission, which provides staff to the Subcommittee on Employee Relations. She said most contracts are for the 2022-23 biennium, and would be effective retroactive to July 1, 2021.

Approximately 35,900 employees represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Middle Management Association, State Residential Schools Education Association or Minnesota Nurses Association would generally see a 2.5% increase in salaries effective July 1, 2021 and again July 1, 2022. Annual merit-based increases — for which about half the employees are eligible — would range from 2.6% to 4%. Juneteenth would be a paid holiday.

A contract with the Minnesota Law Enforcement Association would be effective retroactive to July 1, 2019 and include retroactive 2.25% and 2.5% across the board increases and step increases for eligible members. It would also incorporate changes passed during the 2021 session, including an 8.45% salary increase for all employees effective Oct. 22, 2020, and a 10.45% increase for employees at the top of their salary ranges.

There are also various pay increases for the 772 full-time equivalent employees of the Minnesota State University Association of Administrative and Service Faculty and the 570 unrepresented managers of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Personnel Plan for Administrators.

Also included are memorandums of understanding, such as incentives to work additional shifts; financial incentive for referrals, recruitment and retention for hard-to-fill positions; and use of sick leave to care for minor children required to quarantine.

The companion, SF3254, sponsored by Sen. Mark Koran (R-North Branch), awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

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