Labor contracts might not continue after expiration


When union contracts expire in the public sector, the contract terms continue in effect. In practice, this can result in employees getting automatic wage or benefit increases even while their unions and employers are negotiating the terms of the next contract.

On a vote of 68-63, the House passed a measure that would preclude this from happening.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) sponsors  HF1974*/ SF2078 that would provide that public-sector union contracts do not continue in effect after they’ve expired.

Supporters include school boards and other local government units, who say the measure would put them in a better position to negotiate with the unions. They argue that unions have little incentive to come to the bargaining table when the terms of the old contract remain in effect, providing the workers with automatic compensation increases.

Opponents, however, say that the opposite is true: if the contract terms did not continue in effect, then government entities would have too much leverage over the unions during contract negotiations, creating an unfair playing field.

“What we’re doing here is messing in public employee labor law and the negotiations between the state and public employees,” said Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park).

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca) is the sponsor.