Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Collective bargaining changes, employee email access, part of bill to modify public employment agreement

Much like can occur in the process itself, two very divergent views have emerged about a collective bargaining bill.

Supporters of HF1690 say it would give workers a greater voice when it comes to negotiations on working conditions; opponents argue unprecedented employee access could be granted to union officials, cybersecurity concerns, and changes could be costly for school districts and local units of government.

House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee 3/7/23

“As Minnesotans we are proud of our state and the standard of living that we provide for all of our residents, but right now our laws are not keeping up with the times to ensure our public servants have the support they need to keep all Minnesotans educated, safe and healthy,” Rep. Sydney Jordan (DFL-Mpls) told the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday.

Laid over for possible omnibus bill inclusion, the Jordan-sponsored proposal seeks myriad modifications to the Public Employment Labor Relations Act that was passed in 1984 and has not, in Jordan’s words, seen “significant changes” since the 1990s. “That stagnation and our public sector labor laws has eroded the ability of public employees to join together to have a voice on the job, and that hurts all of us.”

[MORE: Nonpartisan House Research Department review of collective bargaining/PELRA]

Amongst the bill provisions it would require:

  • personnel data be disseminated to labor organizations to the extent necessary for certain reasons, including conducting elections and fair share fee assessment notification;
  • a public employer to provide a union access to the public employer’s email system to communicate with bargaining unit members, and access to facilities owned or leased by the public employer to conduct meetings with those members;
  • collective bargaining over school district staffing ratios, class sizes in school districts and charter schools, student testing, and student-to-personnel ratios;
  • a school board to negotiate with the exclusive representative of teachers before adopting an e-learning day; and
  • reduction from 120 to 60 the number of days of teaching service a probationary teacher must complete during their probationary period.

Edward Barlow teaches music at Anwatin Middle School in Minneapolis and was a 2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalist. He’s had class sizes of 50 students, far from an ideal teacher-student ratio.

“I had trouble just finding enough seats, let alone not enough materials,” he said. “… I support HF1690 because it addresses the learning conditions in our schools and gives students and families transparency on how our schools are working for them.”

Concerns addressed by opponents include that bargaining for staff ratios can be problematic at a time when workforce shortages are already prevalent, what happens if a district has an influx of students during a year, the proposal is at odds with inherent managerial rights, and the fear of giving an outside entity access to a city or school district email system.

“It’s not difficult for me to imagine a situation where this provision will create serious issues with data privacy, with records retention, with accusations of unfair labor practices and with lawsuits and with cybersecurity,” said Laura Kushner, human resources director at the League of Minnesota Cities. “… The city has to be able to hold accountable the people who are using their email system. For employees that’s fine because the city has the tools to hold those people accountable. For an outside entity that is doing business using their email system, they have no ability to hold those folks accountable.”

Rep. Danny Nadeau (R-Rogers) said he tries to find places of agreement in all bills but is having no success with this one. “This is a handoff to one side of a strong commitment that teachers and their collective bargaining along with the school district have committed to for decades. This is basically tying the hands of one."

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

House passes tax package that includes rebate checks, $1 billion in new revenues
Rep. Aisha Gomez and House Majority Leader Jamie Long talk during a break in the May 20 debate on HF1938, the tax finance and policy bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis) Is it the largest tax cut in Minnesota history? Or the biggest tax hike the state has ever experienced? Could it be both? That’s the crux of the debate about the conference ...
House passes finalized cannabis legalization bill, sends it to Senate
A supporter of cannabis legalization demonstrates in front of the Capitol in 2021. The House repassed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, as amended in conference committee, May 18 and sent HF100 to the Senate. (House Photography file photo) The House gave the green light to adult-use recreational cannabis Thursday. “The day has finally arrived. Today is the day that we are going to vote here in the House for th...

Minnesota House on Twitter