Significant changes to labor law could be around the corner for Minnesota workers — particularly unionized educators.
However, the House brought their version of the contentious omnibus labor policy bill closer in line to the Senate’s during the floor debate, via the adoption of two amendments successfully offered by DFL representatives.
“It’s incredibly special and fitting to have passed our Labor and Industry Policy Bill on May Day, a day that commemorates the struggles and victories of the labor movement," Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said in a statement. "Today, we continue to fight for a world where all workers have the opportunity to thrive. We continue to fight for a world where workers are paid a living wage, have safe working conditions, and have access to quality healthcare. We deserve a world where workers are represented in government and have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Today, we did right by all of Minnesota’s workers."
Nelson and Sen. Jennifer McEwen (DFL-Duluth) are the bill sponsors.
While the differing bills touch on many areas of labor law, the most substantive provisions consist of updates to the Public Employment Labor Relations Act that governs collective bargaining and unionization rights in the public sector. It would be modified by:
Additional updates to this law would pertain specifically to public education, such as:
Other notable provisions of the bill include:
Republicans unsuccessfully offered a half-dozen amendments that would have deleted large swathes of the bill. Provisions targeted for removal included the expansion of public sector union access to employee contact information; the shortening of teacher probationary periods; and permitting teacher unions to negotiate student-to-personnel ratios.
Amendment supporters expressed concerns regarding worker data privacy rights and that the state would be unreasonably inserting itself into the collective bargaining process.
“We don’t need to be in those conversations. … What we do at the legislative level is we’re pushing our thumb on one side of the scale,” said Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls).
“Remember back to the pandemic when we called our public employees heroes. These heroes are simply asking for a voice on the job,” countered Rep. Sydney Jordan (DFL-Mpls), sponsor of many of the proposed adjustments to PELRA.