Minnesota lawmakers preparing for next contract showdown with state workers

The Minnesota Senate today passed a bill that prevents public employees and governments from extending a union contract beyond the point at which it expires. Before doing so, however, it added an amendment that eliminates police, fire, corrections, military and veterans services workers from its impact.

Under the legislation, the contract terms could not be extended if it would provide a wage increase to an employee, or an increase in the state’s insurance contributions.

“It’s not their fault if an agreement is not reached, ” Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood said of state employees. “Why should they be penalized?”

“All the bill is doing is freezing things,” Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said. “Everything stays as is. A contract term does not continue in effect and is not enforceable. What’s happening currently with negotiations is that the negotiations are continuing, but our governor — the Dayton administration — interpreted the language to continue increases indefinitely. We believe that was not the intent during the negotiations of the previous contract. This bill would eliminate that. The intent is to create a level playing field, and a balance in the bargaining power.”

“What the advantage is to the state escapes me,” Sen. Ken Kelash, DFL-Minneapolis, said. “It’s to the state’s advantage to negotiate with the labor unions after the state budget is passed. You’re believing the unions have an unfair advantage” he said, noting that it has more to do with the Legislature “not getting its work done on time.”

“What we’re trying to do is slowly but surely pull collective bargaining apart,” Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, said. She said state employees could end up with no health coverage once a contract expires, if the cost of insurance goes up.

“You’re right,” Parry said. “This is something that would be negotiated in new contracts.”

The bill passed on a 37-to-25 vote.

  • Power to the Bureaucrat!

  • annette schoenberger

    So now they have extended the war to all workers. This is really troubling. I would like to see all republican law makers give up their state salaries and benefits. Then I might believe that they have the best interest of the citizens in mind. As it is they are just trying to get as much as they can.

  • @annette schoenberger –

    Here’s a better idea – how about any lawmaker from either party, statewide or nationally, to give up their salary? Because the independently wealthy in the halls of power are not confined to one party.

  • Kassie

    Dayton will veto, thank god.

    I honestly don’t understand why they hate state employees so much. They pass laws that without us would not be carried out or enforced. We have a democrat as an executive for the first time since 1990. Why didn’t they try and pull this crap under Ventura or Pawlenty? Either of those two governors could have negotiated that term into our contract, but they didn’t even try.

    And the amendment that excludes police, fire, corrections, military and veterans services workers from its impact just is just trying to put us against each other. Why should someone in my exact job who happens to work at corrections get a contract extension when I won’t? Isn’t a bureaucrat a bureaucrat? Maybe instead they should change it to say that people who vote Republican get a contract extension and those who vote another way don’t.

  • Shiner244

    Yup, divide and conquer has been the Republican’s M.O. for a long time. They’ve, and I’m including right-wing radicals), tried to pit blacks against gays as not to team up and fight the injustice that comes with prejudice and discrimination. There has been documents unearthed lately to prove it.

    Plus, they have an entire network to keep chipping away at American values. Hitler would have been jealous. Day after day they talk about how terrible the “Other Side” is, how wrong they are, and how women don’t deserve the same pay as men. Lets not forget how the right tries also to pit, in a general way, men against women or at least to disrespect women. That white male voter is so important to them, they will stomp on any naturally developing relationship if it threatens them.

    But still we hold on to our decency. We know it’s not right to tell bold-faced lies about our president, we discover that we really don’t want to hate our neighbor, but would rather help them (then you watch TV and get hit with all the propaganda…what to do), we don’t want to be divided, but to think for ourselves, we know it’s wrong to misrepresent the president’s position on policy, we still speak in specifics, not vagueness and we believe party be damned – my country comes first and if I’m called in any way I will do my best for America…without whining.

    Hang in there little “turtles”. The race isn’t over.

  • kennedy

    Why is the state government trying to dictate terms between local governments and their employees? I can’t even imagine the furor if the federal government tried to dictate in this way to the states.

  • This thread got Godwined pretty quick.