Vacation accrual policy helps retain quality employees  At Metro State

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One of the most popular items MAPE bargained for in its current contract is vacation accrual credit for previous private sector experience directly related to an employee’s current state position. Previous MAPE contracts have only included vacation accrual credit for prior public sector experience.

The contract provision notes that the awarding of the private and public sectors vacation accrual credit is “at the discretion of the Appointing Authority.” The colleges and universities comprising Minnesota State have wide-ranging policies from five years to nearly 20 years vacation accrual credit for previous private sector work.  

Local 1201‘s Carlos Vazquez began as a senior accounting officer with Metro State University last October. At his first union meeting, leaders announced that Metro State had developed a policy to credit up to 12 years for private sector work. Vazquez said he had already approached human resources (HR) representatives about increasing his accrual rate and was told they would look into it.

On the spot, Local 1201 steward Matt Spillum told Vazquez he would walk over to the university’s HR department with him to discuss the matter. “I think walking in with Matt kind of made them realize I was serious. It made me think more highly of MAPE,” Vazquez said.

Carlos Vazquez-Matt Spillum

In the photo on the right, from left to right, Local 1201’s Carlos Vazquez and Matt Spillum discuss how Metro State’s private sector vacation accrual policy helps the university retain quality employees.

Before coming to Metro State, Vazquez worked at the Department of Revenue and, prior to joining public service, Revenue officials gave him five years private sector vacation accrual for his eight years employment with Carlson Companies.   

Shortly after Vazques and Spillum met with university HR representatives, Vazques received more than two years additional vacation accrual for his private sector experience. “I am happy with the end result. It makes me proud to be part of a union,” Vazques added.

“As long as Carlos is happy with the decision, I’m happy with it. The meeting was short, respectful and ultimately productive,” said Spillum, an information officer with Metro State. 

“My hat goes off to Metro State’s HR Department -- they’re really doing a phenomenal job with implementing this new vacation accrual policy. If more state agencies offered more vacation, the state could recruit more quality people,” Vazquez said.

Spillum concurred, “I’m on Metro State’s meet-and-confer team and HR said this vacation accrual policy is key to retention. Members should go for this as much as they can, because Metro State really wants you to stay here.”

Spillum said he became a steward nearly three years ago because he noticed members were having different kinds of issues at the time and he didn’t understand the contract. “I decided I was going to the training to learn what we were doing and what it means to be in the union under the contract. The educational part was key for me. I’ve gotten much more involved as a result.”

Spillum is also active in Metro State’s new employee orientation. “Some are not coming into MAPE with knowledge of the union. It’s important to get in front of people and tell them about the union,” he said.

“I’m happy I’m a MAPE member,” Spillum continued. “It’s a matter of realizing there’s more to being in a union than attending a meeting once in a while. We are the union. I am the union and you are the union.”

Vazquez said he believes stories like his showing how a steward helped him gain more vacation accrual credit will encourage more people to join MAPE. “I will definitely talk with people about joining and tell them that the union is for benefits you don’t even know about, and how membership will add value to your life inside and outside of work,” Vazquez added.