Ratified labor contracts await Gov. Mark Dayton’s pen

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Workers in five of the state’s labor unions are one step away from receiving a 2 percent across the board pay increase retroactive to Jan. 2, 2013through June 30, 2013 under a bill headed to the governor.

On an 83-44vote Thursday, the House passed HF95/ SF58*, which ratifies negotiated contracts for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.

Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul) and Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL- Brooklyn Center) sponsor the bill, which also includes employee contracts for the Middle Management Association, State Residential Schools Education Association, Correctional Officers, Unit 8, and two compensation plans. The Senate voted 40-25 to ratify the contracts on Feb. 7. The bill now moves to Gov. Mark Dayton for action.

The same AFSME and MAPE contracts were rejected last August because they didn’t require public employees to pay up to 10 percent of their health insurance premiums and contained the same salary increases. During re-negotiations, Minnesota Management and Budget was unsuccessful in negotiating the two Republican sticking points. However, a new DFL majority approved the contracts in House committees. Amendments from Republicans on the House floor to add the conditions were ruled not germane to the bill and were not adopted.

“All along the process, we asked for reforms instead of rubber stamping increases,” Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said.

The contracts will require $76 million in new money this year and an estimated $249 million over for the next biennium. The agencies and departments with eligible employees will have to absorb the pay increases within their existing budgets, Lillie said.

An amendment was offered by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) to require agencies to report where the funds came from and what was not funded because of the raises. Her amendment was ruled out of order.

Lillie said the contracts and pay increases were “long overdue.” The last salary increases, other than performance-based step increases, were in 2008, he said.