Move to limit state worker pay, benefit increases advances in House

With a thin 68-to-63 vote, the Minnesota House of Representatives this afternoon approved a bill preventing public employees and governments from extending a union contract beyond the point at which it expires.

Under the legislation, which I described here when the Senate approved a similar measure last week, 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.

The bill is aimed at Minnesota state workers who have worked without a contract for more than 10 months.

Some Republicans have claimed the state labor unions are slowing negotiations, hoping for a more labor-friendly House and Senate in November’s elections.

“This is a situation where the unions have the advantage in the negotiations,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowki, R-Wabasha, the bill’s author. “In our public employee contracts, we have automatic reauthorization of the contract terms going forward, coupled with step and line increases and COLAs of the old contract. If the old contract had salary reductions or health insurance reductions in it, it’d be the unions coming to us to ask for this provision.”

But another Republican, Rep. King Banaian, R- St. Cloud, says some state workers — he cited faculty unions at St. Cloud State University — will be punished for a situation not of their making. Banaian, a professor at the university, said one colleague told him he fears he won’t get a raise he’s waited six years to get.

“For members of smaller unions, we have to wait for our contracts to get settled, until the bigger ones get settled. We don’t necessarily have a lot of control over when we get to settle. We have to wait ‘our turn.’ We’ve been working without a contract for nine months. We’re still waiting. This person has earned the promotion, and even if all of us sign that, this person — six years of work — will not be recognized unless other people decide to settle their contracts before us.”

“You’re going to see more strikes… that will take years to heal,” Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Lake, said. “Think of your small rural communities… and ask yourself, ‘is it good policy to have residents of my community to have less income or more income with which to purchase goods and services from local businesses?'”

But Drazkowski said since the last state worker contract expired, extension of contract provisions has cost the state $140 million in “unnegotiated increases.”

Gov. Mark Dayton is not expected to sign the legislation, and the closeness of this afternoon’s vote shows there aren’t enough votes to override a veto.

  • Kassie

    The $140million in “unnegotiated increases” is a complete lie. They were negotiated. Our negotiated contract has provisions for extending the contract until the next contract is reached. This was negotiated by a Republican. For the last 20 years we have negotiated with Republican and Independence governors, so if the current crop of Republicans don’t like it, they have no one to blame but their own party.

  • The link with the latest labor news from around the country.

  • nt

    Drazkowski is not a nice guy. It is a continual puzzle to me why the seemingly reasonable folks in Wabasha county keep re-electing him.

    If you want to drive away the competent state university faculty – those who have recently been tenured and are young and productive, this is the way to do it.

  • Ralph Crammedin

    I’m in awe of the Republicans’ blatant and unrepentant hypocrisy. They hate unions, hate ’em, unless they’re members, of course, in which case it’s “We’ve been working without a contract for nine months. We’re still waiting.”

  • hairy mason

    These are the republicans who couldn’t pay for the home office and are being evicted due to close to 1 1/2 million in back rent. They know all about fiscal responsibility. You guys must be biased. 🙂 Must be part of the main stream media that keeps attacking the right wing with biased spin and slander like, the truth. Heehee!

    Who on earth truly is stupid enough to believe that the way to fix a deficit is to take money from people who spend all.they get. And then will argue 5 minutes later that more jobs will fix the economy, so don’t tax the “job creators”? Our new republicans do. I’m no democrat, but garbage like this has made me anti-republican.

  • hard rock miner

    Public unions=incest. I am a steelworker, a member of the USW. My employer at contract negotiation time IS NOT OUR FRIEND. The unholy alliance between AFSCME etc. and the politicians is nearing the end. Pensions of over 150K for public employees? For life? Come on down to my level 401K, take a risk, get a raise if there is money, no raise if there isn’t. Work till you are 67 etc…………… Why public employee unions are allowed to benefit so excessively with our tax dollars is insane.