State reaches contract deals with two largest unions

Minnesota’s two largest public employee unions announced Friday that they have reached a contract agreement with the state of Minnesota.

The agreement, announced by the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and AFSCME Council 5, would increase salaries by 2.5 percent for each of the next two years.

MAPE has 13,000 members that work for the state. AFSCME Council 5 has roughly 17,000 members.

The contract would also increase the amount employees have to pay for their health care.

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The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees is recommending its membership approve the contract despite worries over the higher health care costs, said spokesman Richard Kolodziejski.

“There are significant increases in first-dollar deductibles and co-pays that will result in immediate costs right out of pocket for our membership,” he said. “ A lot of that 2.5 percent will be erased, so whether or not or membership is going to accept that is yet to be seen.”

Kolodziejski also said the state agreed to form a task force to study whether paid parental leave should be an option for state employees.

AFSCME Council 5 announced on their Facebook page that they reached an agreement with the state,

but a spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

 Spokeswoman Jennifer Mundt said it's their policy to not speak with reporters about the agreement until they've spoken with their members about the tentative agreement.

A spokeswoman for Minnesota Management and Budget also couldn’t be reached for comment.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said the tentative agreement was a balance between compensating state workers fairly and staying within a limited budget. He said the pay increase was not included in the budget deal worked out between Gov. Dayton and the Legislature. He said state agencies will have to absorb the costs internally.

“For those agencies that have a lot of AFSCME and MAPE employees they’ll have to make sure they can manage their budget that pays these new contracts and doesn’t require any lay-offs,” Frans said.

Friday was the self-imposed deadline for the unions to reach an agreement with the state. There are several more steps before the contract is ratified. Union members have to vote in favor of the contract. It also needs approval from the Legislature.

The two-year contract is scheduled to run from July 1 through June 30, 2017.