Hundreds of members meet with governor about the use of temporary unclassified employees

Publish Date

Nearly 300 MAPE members met with Gov. Tim Walz about the use of temporary unclassified employees on March 2 in St. Paul. The crowd was so large that an overflow room was set up in the Orville Freeman Building.

Gov Walz talking with temporary unclassified members

Photo at right: Gov. Tim Walz speaks to members at the meeting about use of temporary unclassified positions

“The misuse of temporary unclassified positions leads to high turnover, postponed projects and low employee morale. The State’s overuse of temporary unclassified positions is unnecessary, improper and harmful,” said Local 902’s Kaitlin Houlihan, a senior research scientist with the Dept. of Health.

Kaitlin Houlihan speaking at meeting about temporary unclassified employees

Photo at left: Local 901's Kaitlin Houlihan, Dept. of Health, addresses members

MAPE represents more than 15,000 employees, 700 of whom are temporary unclassified workers. MAPE believes a majority of these positions should be classified. Temporary unclassified employees from the Departments of Administration, Agriculture, Commerce, Corrections, Employment and Economic Development, Health, Housing, Human Services, Labor and Industry, Lottery, MNIT, Natural Resources, Public Safety, Revenue, Transportation and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities attended the meeting.

“If MAPE is telling us this is a top priority, it’s a top priority,” Gov. Walz told meeting participants.

Nick Roth, Dept of Agriculture, speaks to members at temporary unclassified meeting

Photo at right: Dept. of Agriculture's Nick Roth tells members about the Produce Safety Program

Nick Roth and his colleagues at the Dept. of Agriculture have been building from scratch a regulatory program that for the first time is bringing food safety oversite onto Minnesota produce farms. The entire nine-employee Produce Safety Program was created as temporary unclassified, even though a five-year grant from the FDA had been secured, and the work must continue both to ensure Minnesota’s food safety and comply with federal law. 

“In many ways, my work is building a bridge between produce growers and the state. It is impossible for me to plan for my future or seek out greater opportunity within government leadership when I have no idea if I will be employed long-term despite knowing my position will be needed long after I am gone,” Roth said.

MNIT's Sonya Kith talks about temporary unclassified employees

Photo at left: MNIT's Sonya Kith tells members about her experiences as a temporary unclassified employee

Sonya Kith has been a quality assurance analyst with MNIT for nearly seven years and currently serves in a temporary unclassified position at the Dept. of Human Services. “I’ve seen the results of unnecessary instability. I’ve seen really talented colleagues pursue jobs in other areas, agencies and private sector,” Kith said.  

Gov. Walz told the group that he worries when he sees talented government employees think about going elsewhere because “We can’t afford to have anyone leave this service.”

Gov Walz speaking to members

Photo at right: Gov. Walz addresses MAPE members

He added, “You need to have security in your jobs. You need to be able to go to your families and, more than anything, I want you to see this as an employer of choice. “

By statute, the State is allowed to designate positions as temporary unclassified when the need for the work is temporary and not expected to last more than three years. Employees work under appointments which can be terminated at any time. Unclassified employees cannot bring termination grievances to binding arbitration, have no access to unpaid leave for medical reasons or layoff rights such as bumping or a six-month continuation of employer contributions to healthcare.

MAPE employees asked the governor to conduct a review of all temporary unclassified positions and to stop unnecessary use of them. The union also asked for the creation of an appeal process for the future.  

Gov. Walz told the group that the State is now using fewer temporary unclassified employees. “We’re trending in the right direction. I want to be very clear: the reason we’re trending in the right direction is MAPE members and MAPE leadership said we had to trend in the right direction,” he added.   

Watch MAPE’s video about the event:

Click on photos from the event: