Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, is throwing some cold water on some of the union-backed initiatives at the State Legislature.
Bakk told a forum at the University of Minnesota’s s Humphrey School today that it will be difficult to pass legislation that would give a two-year unemployment extension for locked out workers, a minimum wage increase that tops $10 an hour and a measure that allows at-home child care workers to unionize. Bakk, a retired union carpenter, said some union leaders told him over the weekend that they’re not happy with him.
“My union card is 37 years old,” Bakk said. “There are things you can do and things you can’t get done.”
Bakk also said the Senate will not take up a bill that would require labor peace agreements between building developers and union groups that deal with buildings funded, in part, by taxpayer dollars. He said local governments, not the state, should decide the matter.
On the minimum wage issue Bakk said he expects an increase will pass into law this session but it will not be as high as the labor backed $10.55 an hour (or even the House plan that increases the minimum wage to $9.85 an hour).
“Something is going to happen on the minimum wage. I just don’t know what the number is,” he said.
Bakk said it’s been a challenge to manage the expectations of labor groups. He said they were disappointed that the House and Senate are proposing to trim $150 million in Health and Human Services spending.
Union leaders have been optimistic that they could pass several initiatives this session. That measure included a nurse-staffing requirement , a minimum wage hike and allowing at-home child care workers and personal care attendants to join a union.