GOP lawmakers blast contract talks

Republican lawmakers are raising concerns about the slow pace of contract negotiations with state workers, and the potential cost of the delay.

Talks between the Dayton administration and the unions representing public employees began last spring but have not yet produced an agreement. They are now in mediation. Meanwhile, the terms of the old contracts continue. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said the delay puts taxpayers at a disadvantage.

“We have these contracts continuing on auto pilot,” Drazkowski said. “On auto pilot, progression increases in steps and lanes and addition employer, i.e. taxpayer contributions to health insurance that are un-negotiated, that amount over the biennium to about $140 million.”

Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said he’s convinced that both sides are “dragging their feet” to see if a more supportive DFL legislature is elected in November.

Richard Kolodziejski, public affairs director for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, said Parry is wrong.

“There has never been an intent for us to push this out this long,” Kolodziejski said. “We would prefer to have a contract that both our employees that we represent can approve, and that the Legislature can approve.”

Kolodziejski said he thinks Republicans are trying to impose themselves into the current negotiations and dictate the results.

Gov. Mark Dayton said negotiators are still trying to resolve some significant differences. He said he wants a contract that gives taxpayers the best value.

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