President’s Corner: April 2021
April has been an exhausting month, but one also filled with engagement, encouragement and equity.
As I write this column, Minnesota, and much of the country and the world, is still processing the three guilty verdicts delivered in the trial of Derek Chauvin. MAPE is proud of our members and other public servants who worked during the investigation and the trial to ensure fairness and accountability.
The struggle our state has been through over the past year has been difficult for all of us. Even harder work lies ahead as we act together to create real equality and justice, and dismantle systemic racism from healthcare to home ownership and education to employment. As Vice President Walter Mondale often reminded us, “The battle for civil rights is a journey, not an end point.”
During this same time, anti-Asian rhetoric has fueled deadly attacks against Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in Atlanta, and incidents of violence and hate here in Minnesota. MAPE stands in solidarity with our AAPI members and AAPI communities, condemning hate and violence aimed at people based on race. We call for action, beginning with support of the legislative language within HF 1691/SF 2003, and HF 794/SF 1272.
This legislation improves Minnesota’s hate crime laws by closing loopholes in the definition of a hate crime, increasing training for law enforcement to identify hate crime and providing a direct channel from community groups to the Department of Human Rights to report hate crimes.
Racism and hate have no place in our union. MAPE is committed to working with you to create a better union, state and country. We recently held a listening session to hear from our AAPI members. Remember to check in with your AAPI colleagues to see how they are doing. If you would like to view the AAPI listening session, click here. Passcode: *?s4cspi.
April 22-23 will complete our second set of 2021-2023 contract negotiations meetings with Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB). More than 300 members participated in the April 22 bargaining session to show support for MAPE’s temporary and other unclassified proposals around the State’s use of the temporary unclassified designation.
The statute that allows this designation clearly states this should only be used for positions which are “fully anticipated to be of limited duration,” yet the State allows too much discretion for agencies, and not enough transparency or predictability for employees. We have seen many of these positions be used for roles with long-term needs and projects that go well beyond three years. MAPE offered proposals that aim to define the State’s use of this designation and require documentation be provided to MAPE and employees upon the creation of these positions.
At the beginning of the month we put forward 30 proposals which encompassed our vision of how to move State government forward from pandemic relief and recovery to reimagining how we serve Minnesota. Our proposal themes included wages and health care; equity, diversity and inclusion; healthy workplace; mental health and wellbeing; and attraction and retention of employees.
MMB’s team, on the other hand, brought forward 143 proposals. Their proposals didn’t have themes but showed a clear intention of union busting: sweeping anti-union attacks, trying to control our MAPE stewards, imposing arbitrary restrictions on our ability to communicate with our coworkers and seemingly smaller but still significant things like removal of union space on bulletin boards.
Even worse, MMB brought a proposal to eliminate seniority by pitting employees against one another under the guise of equity. Equity deserves real solutions, not to be used as a scapegoat in an effort to take away union rights.
Equity, diversity and inclusion should be desired by all who live and work in Minnesota. MAPE’s proposals for the 2021-2023 contract pertain not only to MAPE’s 15,000 members but to the 5.7 million Minnesotans MAPE serves. Equity, diversity and inclusion should be desired by all who live and work in Minnesota. MAPE’s equity and other proposals are available at: https://mape.org/proposals
May promises to be a busy month for MAPE. We have several contract bargaining sessions with MMB and there is still much work to be done during the remaining few weeks left in the legislative session. We must persuade legislators to provide more resources for state agencies and the programs Minnesotans deserve as well as support our contract so we can continue providing these important services. We’ll soon have more specifics about what you can do to help in these efforts.