State of Minnesota, two major unions reach tentative contracts

The two biggest state employee unions struck new agreements early Thursday with negotiators from Gov. Tim Walz’s administration, setting up thousands of workers for raises and a new paid holiday.

The Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) department confirmed the two agreements were finalized around 2:30 a.m. They cover the bulk of the state’s workforce and are subject to ratification votes by rank-and-file as well as the Legislature.

MMB said full details are confidential for now.

But according to the unions, both agreements include 2.5 percent base wage increases in each of the next two years, hold the employee share of health care premiums stable and would add Juneteenth as a new paid holiday.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5 has more than 18,000 members who work in clerical positions, correctional facilities, maintenance roles and on road crews.

The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) represents about 15,000 members who include forensic scientists, health epidemiologists, computer technicians and treatment therapists.

AFSCME executive director Julie Bleyhl said additional elements of the contract would add pay for employees injured on the job. She said the agreements recognize the contribution of workers “critical to our state [by] continuing to work during the pandemic and [who] are crucial to our united recovery and shaping our new future rooted in the lives of the working-class.”

MAPE said in a statement that the contributions of its members are felt daily.

“This contract is a step in the right direction, but we know we have a mile to go,” the union said. “To continue this journey, we'll build on what worked — partnering on key priorities, being radically transparent, listening to and amplifying member voices and engaging with those in power to ensure our state and our state government is the best it can be.”

The deals will be put out for votes by membership over the next six weeks. Then a joint House-Senate panel will consider whether to give them interim ratification ahead of a full vote by the Legislature next year.

Editor's note (July 22, 2021): This story has been updated to clarify that the employee share of health care premiums will not increase.

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