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Pair of labor agreements win committee support

Eighteen collective bargaining agreements with state employees were ratified in the past couple of sessions.

Packages for more than 5,000 employees across two more units received strong bipartisan support Tuesday.

Agreements with the Minnesota State College Faculty and Minnesota Government Engineering Council were approved by the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee and sent to the full House, with a recommendation HF800 be put on the consent calendar. Each is for the 2022-23 biennium.

“We’re so blessed as a state to have good workers that are doing good work, and especially during COVID they really shined,” said Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), the bill sponsor.

Under the bill, the 3,961 full-time equivalent faculty at Minnesota State community and technical colleges would, in part, have two steps added to most of the salary ranges through June 30, 2025; retroactive to July 1, 2021, faculty with 15-plus years of experience would receive a step increase equivalent to a 3.2% salary increase; and retroactive to July 1, 2022, faculty with 20-plus years of experience would receive a one-step increase equivalent to a 3.2% salary increase. Faculty at the top of their salary range would receive a lump sum equivalent.

For the 1,123 engineering employees, primarily at the Department of Transportation, the agreement calls for a 2.1% across the board increase on July 1 of both 2021 and 2022, step increases of approximately 3.9% for eligible employees, and it would establish a pilot program providing recruiting and employee referral incentives, similar to what is in other contracts.

Michelle Weber is executive director of the Legislative Coordinating Commission, which provides staff to the Subcommittee on Employee Relations. She said the engineering agreement represents a 4.32% overall cost increase this biennium and a 6.56% increase in the next biennium. The numbers are 3.57% and 5.1% respectively for the faculty agreement.

The bill would also ratify a dozen memorandums of understanding to amend existing labor contracts previously approved by the state, including incentives to retain employees in certain areas.

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