President’s Corner: September 2021
September has been a busy and productive month here at MAPE. Members voted overwhelmingly to ratify MAPE’s recently negotiated 2021-2023 contract and we have another successful Delegate Assembly in the books. Although I must admit that I had high hopes we would be meeting in-person for this year’s Delegate Assembly (DA) but COVID-19 has provided us with another year of challenges and opportunities. I am unbelievably proud to lead this union of MAPE members who have responded with professionalism, dedication and grace.
Delegate Assembly (DA) is MAPE’s highest governing body. I am grateful for the 151 delegates who gave up their sunny Saturday to help make their union more inclusive and transparent. This was our second virtual DA and it was apparent that we’ve all gotten accustomed to participating in Zoom webinars because we finished in 4.5 hours, which must be a record! The early finish did not prohibit debate and thoughtful amendments to the seven resolutions under consideration.
Members also approved the union’s 2022 budget and MAPE legislative priorities and heard presentations by Organizing Council, Political Council and Political Action Committee leaders as well as a legal update.
One of my favorite parts about being a MAPE member is celebrating our accomplishments and honoring those who do so much for their co-workers and union. Longtime Region 1 Chief Steward and Meet and Confer leader Jed Becher received the Neil Farnsworth Award and Negotiations Co-Chairs Adam Novotny and Carolyn Murphy received the Betty Rogers Award. Twenty-two locals were recognized for their membership recruitment and involvement in contract actions.
We were able to announce at DA that members voted overwhelmingly to approve the recently negotiated 2021-2023 contract. Members ratified the contract 97.5 to 2.5 percent. The contract has also been sent to the Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER), the first step in passage by the Legislature.
MAPE negotiators secured wage increases of 2.5 percent each year, added significant benefits to member health insurance with no major changes in out-of-pocket expenses or share of premium costs, added Juneteenth as a holiday, and secured an increase to employer contribution to deferred compensation and more.
The Negotiations Team also made gains in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion; telework and temporary unclassified employees.
I am so honored to have been a part of this Negotiations Team. Transparency was one of the keywords of this year’s negotiations. More than 8,000 members shared contract priorities and ideas, thousands participated in contract actions including a meeting beforehand with Gov. Tim Walz and a petition drive. Open bargaining pulled back the curtains on a confusing process as members watched negotiations in real-time until MMB put a stop to it and filed for mediation. Just hours before the contract was settled, MAPE leaders held a rally outside the Capitol that had a wonderful lineup of speakers, and nearly 1,000 people participated.
Our contract has been sent to the Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER), the first step in passage by the Legislature. SER will vote to make a recommendation to the Legislature on whether to approve the contract. Upon receiving the contract, SER has 30 days to act; if approved or there is no vote, the contract goes into interim effect.
The full Legislature must approve the contract by mid-May of next year. There are many challenges facing us, including getting our contract through a highly partisan legislature at a time when politicians are gearing up for re-election. Redistricting will also make elections more chaotic than usual. We must remind ourselves, as we often say, ‘When we fight, we win!”
We’ve proven that we’re stronger together. That is how we fought for and won a paid parental leave plan, achieved a Respectful Workplace Policy and implemented COVID-19 leave. We’re now developing strategic plans to pass our contract, and we’ll need assistance from every one of us. There are many forces intentionally trying to divide us. We have an opportunity to welcome in a new America, and a new Minnesota.