Negotiations planning begins Negotiators, meet and confer teams meet

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Building member power to help MAPE win at the bargaining table next year was the theme of the first-ever negotiations planning meeting between members of the Negotiations Committee, and local meet and confer teams. More than 40 members from across the state began developing plans last week to reach 5,000 MAPE members over the next few months through hundreds of local listening sessions about the 2019-21 contract.

In preparation for the current 2017-19 contract, nearly 2,000 members across the state participated in listening sessions and discussed changes they’d like to see in the new contract, what government needs to do to make public service more attractive as a career, what their agencies could do to advance the common good of Minnesotans and what they would do to make these improvements happen.

Negotiations planning 2018 Dunn

In the photo on the right, from left to right, Negotiations Committee member Bill Dunn and Government Relations Committee Chair Nicole Juan discuss bargaining strategies.

During the meeting, negotiators elected Region 19 Director Lynn Butcher and Region 9 Director Maggie Dreon committee co-chairs.

“I’m really looking forward to this round of negotiations, because it’s the first contract post-Janus. We’ve really doubled down on our efforts to reach people. People feel valued when asked for their opinions and we’ve committed to reach one-third of them,” Butcher said.

She continued, “During our previous listening sessions, as people came forward with their stories, we were able to develop themes around the contract like building a better workforce and what role their agencies could play. The contract rally in May was huge, because people were excited and saying, 'Hey, they’re talking about me!’ ”

Negotiations Committee Co-chair Maggie Dreon said she thought it was a good idea to bring the negotiations, and meet and confer teams together. “The synergy in the room was really exciting. The groups are complimentary to each other. How are we going to identify issues? How are we going to move them forward? The more we work together will help drive the issues.”

Negotiations planning 2018 - Peterson

In the photo on the right, from left to right, DEED meet and confer member Kirsten Peterson and Negotiations Committee member Troy Borchardt talk about plans for statewide listening sessions.

Dreon, who was heavily involved in the paid parental leave campaign, said listening sessions paid a big part in the campaign’s success. “We knew we wouldn’t win paid parental leave initially, but we knew it was winnable over time. The voices of members across the state during their listening sessions gave paid parental leave the support it needed to be such a focus.”

Region 3 Negotiations Committee member Bill Dunn said his colleagues at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency thought the private sector vacation accrual negotiated in the current contract was “fabulous.”

He added, “We’ve done a nice job progressing our locals to make sure we’re ready to take on negotiations activities. Soon, we’re going to hold a series of listening sessions and this is the building block to see if your issues can gain traction.”

Negotiations planning 2018 -- meet and confer

In the photo on the right, from left to right, Jerry Jeffries, Minnesota State meet and confer; Emily Moen, Local 1401 steward; Lynn Butcher, Negotiations Committee co-chair; and Nikki Engen, Revenue meet and confer, share a laugh during one of the small group sessions.

This is the second time Don Lucksinger, Local 1601 president and a DHS program adviser in Brainerd, will be representing his region at the bargaining table. “I want to build on what I learned last time and use that knowledge to help MAPE. A lot of people brought forth ideas and I wanted to be their voice,” Lucksinger said. He lives in Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s district and helped arrange a meeting between Gazelka and his MAPE constituents during the last contract negotiations. “At our meeting, we got him to say he supported our contract.”

Nicole Juan, an analyst with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and chair of the Government Relations Committee, moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin in 2012 for better job opportunities. “I knew state employment in Minnesota would allow us to bargain. Before Act 10 occurred, people didn’t take the 2010 election seriously.

“This year in Minnesota, we’ve had a record number of voters. I see a lot of hope that people are waking up and participating. We need more MAPE members bringing that union message when we talk to voters,” Juan added. “It is important to connect the contract with political work and having supportive elected officials or our contract won’t go anywhere.”

Troy Borchardt, a clinical program therapist at Lino Lakes Correctional Facility and represents Region 13 on the Negotiations Team, said, “The biggest thing I learned from today’s training is that everybody has a voice.”

The team is scheduled to reconvene in December to discuss the 2019-21 contract issues brought up during this year’s listening sessions. Negotiations Committee members are also planning to campaign and door knock for MAPE-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz next month.