Local 1701 members hold informational picket to address serious staffing and safety issues at Minnesota Sex Offenders Program

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A dozen MAPE members were joined by nearly 20 other union members to address serious staffing and safety issues at the Minnesota Sex Offenders Program in Moose Lake during an informational picket in Duluth on June 2.  

“We had nurses, educators and building trades siblings join us. Several folks stopped by to ask questions and many passersby gave the thumbs up. MNA President Chris Rubesch and Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bernie Burnham were in solidarity with us, as well as Senate Labor Committee Chair Jen McEwen and other legislators,” Region 17 Director David Clanaugh said.  

MSOP Info Picket

Clanaugh said MAPE members approached Minnesota Department of Human Services management more than a year ago about serious safety and staffing concerns. There have been nearly one dozen assaults on MSOP staff over the past year and management has not been responsive to calls for reform. “An OSHA citation resulted from a major assault, but we have seen management resisting the citation rather than cooperatively addressing the issues,” Clanaugh said. 

MSOP security staff is down to about 65 percent of desired levels and therapy staff is down to 55-60 percent of desired levels. Recently the facility operated with eight fewer people than is typically considered a minimum safety level of acceptable staffing.    

Management and MAPE members had initially agreed to meet at the end of June to discuss staffing and safety concerns. Still, yesterday management cancelled the June meeting and rescheduled it for the end of July. “Staff don’t feel valued and their concerns aren’t being heard. Rescheduling a meeting for six weeks from now puts people off a little bit. The work we do is important. We’re trying to deliver quality programming in a therapeutic setting, but we’re also trying to provide safety and security for both clients and staff,” Local 1701 President Pete Braith said.  

“Management needs to seriously discuss retention and recruitment plans with us. This informational picket helped us realize that we are the union – that we can build power to improve our workplace and service to all Minnesotans,” Clanaugh said. “We want to be successful, and we want our managers to be successful as partners in delivering quality programming. Local 1701 members share a great desire to collaborate – to engage everyone to identify and implement concrete, specific and actionable solutions in a timely manner.”