Negotiations blitz and team meeting work-life balance, healthy workplace and temporary unclassified employees

Publish Date

The Negotiations Committee met with members across the state last Thursday then tackled new bargaining topics on Friday, March 1.

A Negotiations blitz was scheduled for meetings with MAPE members from Saint Cloud to Rochester on Feb. 28. “I was in Mankato and talked with members there and learned what’s important to them. We’re using the stories we hear to support the proposals we’re moving forward,” Negotiations Co-chair Lynn Butcher said. 

“If members have stories to share around one of our organizing themes, please reach out to your local negotiator or your contract action team for a story form. You can also email your story to us at stories@mape.org,” Butcher added.     

The contract themes are wages and health care, recruitment and retention, equity and inclusion, work-life balance and healthy workplace.

The negotiations team met in the Twin Cities the next day to discuss draft proposals. 

“We began digging into those themes we haven’t really talked about much yet: work- life balance and healthy workplace. We’ve been going through some of the ideas that have come up to develop some ideas that we may want to move forward through contract negotiations,” Negotiations Co-chair Maggie Dreon said.

Region 20's Kay Pedretti leads a work group discussing healthy workplace ideas.

In the photo on the right, Region 20's Kay Pedretti leads a work group discussing healthy workplace ideas.

Some of the topics discussed included paid family leave, telecommuting/flex schedules, respectful workplaces and safety and weather emergencies.

“There are a lot of details we have learned from talking with members one-on-one, through listening sessions and surveys, and experiences we have had as stewards. We know these details are important, and it’s going to be challenging to put them into a few proposals,” admitted Region 20 Negotiations Committee Representative Kay Pedretti

Region 2 Director and Steward Kassie Church met with negotiators to discuss suggested changes to contract language regarding temporary unclassified employees. According to state law, temporary unclassified employees are supposed to be used only in limited circumstances where funding is uncertain or where a specific project has a well-defined timeline.

MAPE has noted a substantial increase, 30 percent, in the use of temporary unclassified employees over the last five years. MAPE represents nearly 1,000 temporary classified employees. 

Unlike regular MAPE positions, temporary unclassified employees don’t accrue seniority, don’t have layoff rights and have far fewer opportunities to develop a career in state service.

Church, a project manager MNIT at the Dept. of Human Services, noted that there have been “countless member discussions” about the misuse of the temporary unclassified employee statute. She said the statute is being misused because not all of the work being done is temporary. She said 300 of MNIT’s 2,000 employees are temporary unclassified workers.

Church would like to see temporary unclassified employees have arbitration rights restored for unjust terminations and be allowed access to unpaid medical leaves of absence.   

“MAPE has always believed in equal rights for equal work, and temporary unclassified employees are not getting the same rights as classified employees. It is important for MAPE to fight equally for the same rights for everyone,” Church said. “Negotiators need to act because there are disparities between the two groups and it’s important to eliminate those disparities.” 

The Negotiations Committee will next meet on March 7.