End of 2024 Legislative Session Report

Publish Date

The 2024 Legislative Session started on Feb. 12. The DFL trifecta announced a handful of priorities, including passing a bonding bill and expanding on the work they passed during the first year of the biennium.

Since collective bargaining agreements no longer require approval from the legislature for ratification, MAPE was able to prioritize variety of issues this year, such as adding job classes to the correctional employee retirement plan (CERP), improving the appeals process for state employees improperly placed in unclassified and temporary unclassified positions and continuing to refine and strengthen worker protections under the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA). As the session progressed, MAPE worked with collation partners to fight off substantive benefit claw backs to Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML), take initial steps on enabling a Public Option health care plan and maintain operations of CARE facilities in St. Peter and Carlton.

Business ground to a halt when Senator Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury) was arrested and charged with burglary. The final week of session, specifically the last two days, were filled with parliamentary maneuvers and delays that resulted in the reemergence of “omnibus prime.” The tax bill conference committee report was packed with PFML provisions, regulations on straw purchases for firearms and several other conference committee reports, roughly nine bills in total.

Chaos descended on the chambers and the final bills were pushed through. A cash-only bonding bill also made a brief appearance, was passed out of the House and died in the Senate. Below is a more detailed summary of those and other issues and their final result. The bill may be subject to a lawsuit in the future for violating the single subject clause of the Minnesota Constitution.

PELRA and Labor Changes
House File 5242, the Transportation, Labor, and Housing supplemental budget bill included numerous improvements to collective bargaining rights and expanded topics under which exclusive representatives could file unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), as well as adjustment to the Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law. On the final day of session, additional provisions regarding transportation network companies were added to reflect a deal struck between Uber and Lyft and the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association and, in the final hour, the contents of the bill were moved into the omnibus tax bill.

While most of our work was placed in the finance bill, the labor policy bill also had strong pro-worker provisions, including prohibiting restrictive employment covenants and standardizing the state’s minimum wage.  

MAPE was also supportive of a proposal to extend unemployment insurance to striking workers. The bill passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate or included in the omnibus bills.

  • Numerous technical clarifications on the PELRA changes from last year
    • Ensures employees must be paid for new employee orientations (NEO) and that the NEO must be permitted during normal work hours.
    • Employers may attend the 30-minute NEO meeting between exclusive representative and employee only by express mutual agreement.
    • Clarifies card check signature requirements.
    • Permits University of Minnesota staff to form unions.  
  • New ULPs include:
    • Failure to provide information relevant to enforcement or negotiation of a contract to an exclusive representative within a timely manner.
    • Failure to reallocate a position to the correct bargaining unit.
  • ESST Changes
    • New language allows employers to choose to apply written documentation and notice requirements in place on 12/31/23 (not on any other date prior to that), only for hours accrued before 2024 and only if they allow workers to choose which bucket they are using.
    • Adds an 80-hour minimum to this provision allowing bargaining to deviate from the documentation requirements for some hours moving forward.
    • On the provision regarding hours going forward (as opposed to previously accrued hours), there is no explicit language on employees getting to choose which bucket they use first, so unless we agree to a different standard for hours beyond 80/year in a collective bargaining agreement, the ESST requirements apply to all hours accrued starting in 2024.
  • Rideshare provisions
    • Sets new compensation rates and insurance benefit requirements for rideshare drivers.
    • Preempts any local unit of government from regulating transportation network companies (TNCs) or drivers, including wages or benefits.

MAPE and other public sector unions attempted to build off one-time wins from last sessions by advocating for numerous benefit enhancements, including increasing the benefit multiplier from 1.7 to 1.9 percent and making permanent the 0.5 percent employee to employer contribution shift. MAPE also pushed several policy bills to add positions to CERP and create an early retirement qualification for corrections agents.

  • Department of Human Services (DHS) Music Therapist added to CERP
    • MAPE successfully added the music therapist position to the job classifications that may qualify for CERP if the employee meets the statutory criteria.
  • Early retirement for corrections agents
    • MAPE led a proposal to extend early retirement for state and county corrections agents, which would allow them to retire at 60 years of age or after 30 years of service. While the legislature did not include this provision in the omnibus bill, legislators did recognize the need to review the entire CERP statute due to the numerous requests. The final bill established an interim workgroup to review the entire CERP statute and assess whether the 75 percent threshold should be dispositive of qualification.
  • IRAP to TRA transfer language
    • After the 2023 legislative session, MAPE served on an interim workgroup to develop a one-time, all-call request for those employed at Minnesota State colleges and universities as unclassified academic professionals to potentially move from a 401(k) plan to a pension plan.
    • Employees opting to transfer may also access money designated an offset account.

Paid Family Medical Leave
The bill began as a mere technical corrections bill, but quickly changed as the Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED) pushed the legislature to either implement an unpaid waiting period in the initial week or create a tiered system focused on paid time off (PTO) accruals. MAPE, labor allies, AARP and Gender Justice spent several weeks trying to remove the PTO carveout. The House passed a clean version of the bill without the PTO carveout, but the Senate ran out of time and the bill was added to the omnibus tax bill conference committee report.

  • Clarified 12 weeks of paid leave
    • Except for bonding leave, first week paid retroactively after applicant meets 7-day qualifying event.
  • Premium increases will be subject to regular actuarial analysis and adjustments.

Unclassified/Temp Unclassified
After more than a decade of trying to make progress on issues regarding temporary unclassified (TUNC) classification determinations and Minnesota State’s use of unclassified academic professionals (UAP), MAPE introduced legislation to limit agencies’ authority to place employees in unclassified and TUNC positions and proposed a clearer process for appealing classification. MAPE worked with MMB to find solutions outside of the legislative process, which resulted in modifications to the Administrative Procedure 8.2 and an MOU to reduce the probationary period for converted positions to 45 days. We also negotiated a new administrative procedure regarding appeals for unclassified academic professionals. Key wins include:

  • MMB-MAPE MOU provides appointing authority discretion to certify TUNC and UAP conversions as soon as 45 days following conversion.
  • Clarifying TUNC and UAP criteria and include a carve out to automatically convert to permanent classified service if a job was improperly classified as a TUNC or UAP.
  • Reduction in the timeline for review/appeal of TUNC designations from 135 days down to 63 days.

The draft administrative procedures will be posted the day following the 2024 legislative session for 15 days before taking effect.

Health and Human Services
Going into session, MAPE’s legislative priorities for DHS centered on making progress on safe staffing at our Direct Care and Treatment facilities and monitoring the enacting legislation of the new state agencies of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and Direct Care and Treatment (DCT). MAPE, AFSCME, MNA and other health care unions hit numerous roadblocks in advancing any legislation regarding safe staffing legislation as the hospital groups lobbied against changes, including modest reporting requirements. There was also a technical mistake made in the DCYF enabling legislation that impacted DHS appeals judges we were able to correct and pass in the education finance supplemental bill. MAPE also supported the repeal of the subminimum wage for persons with disabilities.

The governor’s supplemental budget included a surprise proposal to close the Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise (CARE) facilities in Carlton and St. Peter and convert the St. Peter facility to act as additional forensic bed space. MAPE and AFSCME led an effort to prevent the closures, which was successful for the Carlton facility, but maintaining the St. Peter facility failed to get traction as the pressure to act on the priority admissions taskforce recommendations was more compelling to legislators. In the end, we were able to get some small concessions for a more just transition for employees, which are listed below. The provisions were included in the tax bill during the final hours of session.    

  • CARE facility closures in Carlton and St. Peter
    • CARE Carlton to remain open with no changes to services
    • CARE St. Peter
      • Six-month moratorium on any action to close or wind down services.
      • $1 million for retention incentives for current employees.
      • DCT must provide recommendations to legislature on a new CARE facility located within 35 miles of the current facility by Jan 15, 2025.
      • Added labor representative to the priority admission taskforce.

Department of Corrections (DOC)
Notwithstanding the pension proposals, MAPE’s priorities for the public safety and judiciary policy areas  were financial only. MAPE supported the operating adjustments for DOC to cover the cost of salary settlements and overtime. The budget passed in the Judiciary and Public Safety omnibus bill. MAPE also supported an unsuccessful bonding proposal to update several prisons, including fixing H/VAC at Stillwater and St. Cloud facilities and building a permanent structure for educational programming at the Rush City correctional facility.

MAPE’s tax advocacy centered on a proposal to strengthen Minnesota’s corporate tax disclosure requirements. The bill provided more detail on top earning corporations in state, specifically highlighting information on corporations that do business in Minnesota which have profits exceeding $250 million in a year and showing the amount they pay in taxes. The report would highlight where corporations can exploit loopholes and ensure that our tax policies are impacting corporations doing business in our communities. The bill was included in the House version but did not end up in the final bill.