Progress made during latest round of negotiations
Negotiators spent the final days of May at the bargaining table negotiating MAPE’s 2019-2021 contract. The next time negotiators from MAPE and Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) will meet is when they finalize the contract during Push Week beginning June 17.
“These three days have been incredibly productive. We’ve cleared off as much as we could to focus on those high-impact proposals that will make Minnesota state government a workplace of choice, and improve employee recruitment and retention,” Negotiations Committee Co-chair Lynn Butcher said.
“We know there are some proposals that will be difficult for management to see the value of. These are ideas that we are going to move forward and build our campaigns and get your stories and engagement to help us move them over the finish line,” Negotiations Committee Co-chair Maggie Dreon said.
Three members, all at different stages in their careers, spoke with negotiators when the teams began discussing the issue of wages. “They all spoke to what we know is really true for our members: they all love their jobs deeply and they believe in the work we’re doing,” Dreon said.
Troy Borchardt, a Local 1303 clinical therapist at the Lino Lakes sex offender program, noted there are a number of open positions at correctional facilities, an especially serious problem in facilities housing dangerous offenders. “Safety is an issue every day. We therapists often are working with offenders one-on-one, and I’ve had perhaps half-a-dozen times in my career where I seriously wondered if things could go south,” Borchardt said.
“I spoke to negotiators about low wages, career advancement, retaining and recruiting quality employees and other things the state needs to look at. We need to get the message across that we need to look at new restructures and different things if we want to retain the great state employees we already have at MAPE,” Borchardt said.
Local 801's Cheryl Hunstock began working at the Dept. of Transportation 18 years ago and was promoted to program specialist in 2006. She has been topped-out at her current salary for more than five years. "There are a lot of state employees in my position. The most important thing is that even though our salaries are frozen, we still serve the people of Minnesota the best way we possibly can, and we value our jobs," Hunstock said.
Hunstock said if her salary hadn’t been capped, she would have used the additional money on her seven grandchildren, “I really would have liked to have helped my eight-year-old granddaughter Leah who has epilepsy. As you can imagine, her medical bills are very high, and I would have liked to help with those expenses. It makes me feel bad knowing that I can’t help Leah and her parents because I live at a frozen salary.”
Local 1302’s Mario Traveline is a fisheries specialist with the Dept. of Natural Resources. “I manage fish populations and habitats in lakes in the west metro area, and my position also allows me to do outreach to youth and schools. Most days I think I have the best job in state government because I get to do the work I love,” Traveline said.
Traveline, who has a master’s degree, struggles to make ends meet on his salary and has always worked at least one part-time job including delivering food from local restaurants for Uber and working for a snow removal company in the winter.
He said he and his family count on fair cost of living increases in the contract, “I can maintain a balance that that allows me to work part-time jobs less and be with my family more. This is the difference between paying things off and buying a home. It’s the difference a dollar makes that 50 cents can’t,” he added.
Negotiations Committee members will be talking with people in their locals over the next two weeks. “They’re trying to get more information to the team about what’s important to you, what a win looks like, what matters. Have a conversation with your negotiator, go to your local meeting, talk with the people in your area. You are our vehicle to get this information out,” Dreon said.
Butcher reminded members to continue sending their stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. She added, “We also have an action coming up during Push Week at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington on June 18 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to join us!”