Safety measures announced for state employees facing COVID-19 unknowns

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Safety measures announced for state employees facing COVID-19 unknowns

MAPE Executive Director Lina Jamoul and AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Julie Bleyhl released the following statement:

MAPE and AFSCME Council 5 members are Minnesotans first and state government workers second. We join our neighbors and other community members in this fight against COVID-19. Both personally and professionally, our priority is to support and serve our fellow Minnesotans.

As the COVID-19 global pandemic threatens many aspects of daily life, the hard work of Minnesota’s public sector employees ensures our state agencies continue to operate with minimal disruption to the vital services Minnesotans rely on.

MAPE and AFSCME Council 5 continue to meet with state and agency leadership during this unprecedented time to quickly respond to a crisis that extends far beyond the confines of our work. We are working to support our members so they can continue to provide the quality, reliable and vital services our neighbors rely on.

To protect wages, hours, benefits and other working conditions, we have secured the following provisions for state employees:

  • Guaranteed paid leave will be extended to all executive branch agency staff (Minnesota Statute 2019, section 43A.02, subdivision 22) who must be absent from work due to COVID-19 in order to care for themselves and their children due to school closures for the duration of the Governor's Emergency Executive Order 20-01. 
  • The 35-day waiting period for new executive branch employees to be eligible for insurance has been suspended. All state executive branch employees with less than 35 days of service will now be eligible for health insurance coverage. 

We also appreciate that Gov. Walz has announced financial provisions to help non-government workers across Minnesota cope with this pandemic. He issued an Executive Order to help ensure that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available.

At a time when unparalleled actions to this pandemic have become the norm, we must also recognize the magnitude of Executive Order 20-07, which includes the waiving of select collective bargaining agreement provisions. These provisions represent decades of hard work and progressive governance, and this is a serious action taken in a time that requires bold leadership. We won’t stand in the way of the state’s powerful response to this crisis, but we won’t idly sit by if that power is abused. We have worked with the State to put a system in place to ensure these changes are used only to respond to COVID-19. Our job as a union is to make sure that during this worldwide crisis, Minnesota workers are still protected and safe at work. 

This is a time for us all to come together and collaborate for our health and for our future, and for state agencies to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of employees, their families and the general public during the COVID-19 public health emergency.