AFSCME calls state contract proposal ‘unacceptable’

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Negotiators for AFSCME Council 5 and the state of Minnesota met for “10 grueling hours” on Saturday, with the state demanding numerous givebacks that the union termed “unacceptable.”

The session was the first of five days scheduled to try to reach a contract for 19,000 state employees represented by AFSCME. MAPE, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, also is in contract talks with the state.

Looming over the bargaining is the fact the state faces a projected budget deficit of some $5 billion over the next two years. Unions are calling on lawmakers to address the deficit through shared sacrifice – and not just through concessions from public employees and cuts to services for working families.

Specifically, AFSCME proposes:

• Raising revenue through fair taxes

• Eliminating pet projects, such as JOBZ, that waste money and don’t work

• Eliminating outsourcing and other costly corporate giveaways

• Eliminating extra layers of management and political appointees

AFSCME said the state’s demands include:

• Reduce wages 1.5 percent in the first year

• Reduce wages another 1.5 percent in the second year

• Eliminate step increases

• Force frontline workers to take unpaid leave

• Eliminate the employer’s matching contribution to deferred compensation

• Restrict payment of shift differentials

The state also is seeking to cut health care benefits through higher premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, the union said.

“The state calls its wage proposal ‘sobering,’ AFSCME noted. “The union calls it unacceptable.”

AFSCME said, “The union team is prepared to bargain around the clock to reach a tentative agreement this week. Our top priority is to save jobs and win a fair contract.”

AFSCME members are wearing green — their union’s signature color — during “Push Week” this week. In addition, the union is urging members and supporters to call Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 651-296-3391 or 1-800-657-3717 to urge a fair settlement.

For more information
Visit www.maketaxesfair.org and the AFSCME Council 5 website, www.afscmemn.org.

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