‘Push week’ for state contract talks


Some 30,000 state employees are mobilizing as contract talks between unions and the state of Minnesota reach a critical stage.

AFSCME Council 5, representing 19,000 state workers in a variety of jobs, and MAPE, representing 11,000 professional state government employees, are in the final push in negotiations with the administration of Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The unions plan a joint picnic on the state Capitol lawn Wednesday, June 27, at noon. “Our negotiators are only as strong as we make them! Come and lend your support. Together we are strong!” MAPE urged its members in an announcement on its website, www.mape.org

AFSCME members are showing their solidarity by wearing “It’s OUR Time!” buttons and putting signs in their car windshields.

In recent years, state workers have endured wage freezes, higher health costs and layoffs. They were heartened this year when the state Legislature approved a 3 percent salary supplement, but union negotiators said the extra money “will barely cover health insurance increases.”

“It’s apparent that AFSCME members will have to fight to maintain our health benefits and get a fair raise,” the union said on its website, www.afscmemn.org

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for June 25 through July 3, according to AFSCME. Both unions are posting regular negotiations updates on their websites.