President’s Corner: A packed September
MAPE’s first Negotiations Convention, virtual Delegate Assembly and Local Presidents’ meeting, launch of social media pages
September was full of exciting firsts for MAPE. We held our first Negotiations Convention, hosted an energizing Presidents’ Committee meeting and conducted our first virtual Delegate Assembly to mark the 40th anniversary of our union.
Now, as we enter the seventh month of the COVID crisis, we must pause and look ahead. It will not be easy going forward, but there is a role for everyone to play to help us respond to these unique times and call for justice in the workplace and Minnesota. The economic crisis caused by the combination of COVID 19 and a failed federal response will have lasting effects on Minnesota, regardless of a vaccine or cure. Along with remaining questions about safety measures, social distancing, and telework, this crisis makes our work to provide critical public services to Minnesotans more challenging. The difficulties of 2020 call on MAPE members to step up and to do so not only for ourselves but for our communities and our state.
Three decision points will determine whether we are able to do our work and provide services to the people of Minnesota:
- November’s Election
- The 2021 Legislative Session, which will set the state budget from July 1, 2021-June 30, 2023
- MAPE’s 2021-23 contract bargained with the administration and finalized in June of 2021
These priorities are unique but interconnected and equally important. The contract sets the conditions we work in, the legislature sets the budget that we bargain with, and the people of Minnesota decide who is in the legislature.
I know the next year will bring unique challenges, but also exceptional opportunities. I urge us all to rise to the occasion and commit to the work that is truly important – the health and safety of our members, the environment in which we will negotiate, including the upcoming elections and legislative session, building our union membership, and thinking strategically about our future.
I am so excited for this round of contract bargaining because, no matter what happens, it is going to be like nothing we have ever seen or experienced before. We are going to learn new things, meet new people, and build our political pressure.
On the Friday before Delegate Assembly, MAPE Negotiators met and talked about our opportunities and how to harness the energy we typically generate together in a room and transfer that to a virtual world of negotiations. We talked about the strategies we will use to negotiate, and the important role listening sessions and the coordination between master table and agency supplemental bargaining will play this cycle.
While negotiators met, MAPE’s Local Presidents were also meeting. The Local Presidents shared ideas on learning and preparing for leadership in a COVID world. MAPE members John Harper and Nicole Emerson were guest speakers and they offered a training on unconscious bias and how to talk about race. The Local Presidents also participated in a series of break-out sessions to develop practical skills related to member engagement, contract negotiations and online engagement strategies and tools. Michael Crider, Local 1201, and Liz Pearson, Local 2101, have graciously stepped up as the co-Chairs of MAPE’s Local Presidents Committee for the coming year. MAPE’s Meet and Confer Chairs also met and voted Whitney Terrill, Local 901, as the new Speaker of the Meet and Confer Chairs.
Between a pandemic, budget shortfalls, parents who are simultaneously working and schooling their children, worries about our friends with underlying conditions and the elderly vulnerable to the virus, and a call to action on racial equity, we have a long list of issues we could be fighting. In any issue we choose to take on, if ever there was a time to unite, this is it! When we do that, when we unite — young or old, black or white, Democrat or Republican — when we practice solidarity, we fight, and we win for working people.
Let us work to live up to our potential. We are more than 15,000 state professionals. We are powerful. We are experts in our fields. We can organize and we can be part of leading this state forward.