What is MAPE? A brief history and structure

A brief history and structure
MAPE is the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, an independent union representing approximately 15,000 primarily State of Minnesota professional employees. As a member of Unit 214, the state’s “General Professional Unit," you are represented by MAPE in contract negotiations and other activities related to your employment with the State of Minnesota.

MAPE is also a membership organization. While non-members in the bargaining unit are also represented by MAPE, only members have voting privileges and the ability to participate fully in the governance of their bargaining unit representative, MAPE. Only members can vote on whether to accept the contract negotiated with State of Minnesota every two years. In addition, only members have the right to vote in MAPE elections, run for office, or vote on other issues affecting the membership.

The MAPE collective bargaining agreement in conjunction with the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) and other relevant laws, establishes the terms of your employment and your fellow professional employees who work for the State of Minnesota.

Who MAPE represents
As stated above, MAPE represents state employees in the “General Professional Unit,” which includes those professionals who are not managerial, supervisory, or academic. MAPE-represented state professionals belong to more than 400 classifications and work throughout Minnesota and occasionally out of state in all segments of state service.

How MAPE came to be
• In 1972, Minnesota state government created the Public Employee Labor Relations Act (PELRA), which codified and standardized the rules governing public employment in Minnesota.
• PELRA established in law the rights of public employees to organize into unions. Prior to PELRA, public employees in Minnesota lacked these rights.
• Initially, state professional employees organized under AFSCME, the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees.
• In 1980, state professional employees elected to decertify their association with AFSCME and form an independent union, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, MAPE.
• In 1999, amidst much turmoil in the union, MAPE faced a representation election, a challenge to whether MAPE would continue to represent State of Minnesota professional employees. MAPE won the election; thereby, preserving its role as the exclusive representative of State of Minnesota professional employees.
• Arguably, MAPE as we know it came to be in 2001 when MAPE employees went on strike for the first time in their history. While we did not get everything we wanted, we did preserve health care benefits and sent a message to the state that has benefited us in subsequent contract negotiations. The strike clearly strengthened MAPE as an organization.

What MAPE does
Article II of MAPE’s Constitution states the following:
The purpose of MAPE is to represent its members with respect to all terms and conditions of employment, to promote the welfare of the membership, and to advance the interests of all governmental employees. MAPE is dedicated to the principle of fair and equal representation obtained by democratic methods.

Indeed, this stated purpose is the basis for all MAPE activity, much of which is described below. And although non-members do not enjoy the privileges of membership, they are fully represented by the union when it comes to contract enforcement.

Governance: from Delegate Assembly to locals
Delegate Assembly
The highest decision-making authority within MAPE resides in the Delegate Assembly. Delegates elected by each of the 21 regions gather on an annual basis to establish MAPE’s policy, direction, and budget for the ensuing year. The Delegate Assembly has the authority to create MAPE policies, approve budgets, levy dues, amend the governing documents, and adopt procedures for statewide, regional and local officer elections. In addition, only the Delegate Assembly has the authority to amend the constitution.

Board of Directors
When Delegate Assembly is not in session, the Board of Directors, composed of a director elected from each of the 21 regions plus the Statewide Officers, is responsible for the administration and operation of the union. It has all of the legislative and policy-making authority of the Delegate Assembly, except the power to amend the Constitution.

Executive Committee
The five Statewide Officers compose the Executive Committee: President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The 1st Vice President provides leadership in areas of contract enforcement, and the 2nd Vice President concentrates on organizing membership.

Chief of Staff
Day-to-day coordination of MAPE activities resides with the President and the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff is an employee of the union and supervises and directs the activities of the staff.

During the President’s term of office, he or she is on “lost-time” status -- on leave from his or her state of Minnesota job while working for MAPE. MAPE’s Bylaws establish the President as chair of the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and the Delegate Assembly. The President can call special meetings of the Board of Directors or Delegate Assembly and participate in statewide standing committees, departmental meet and confers, statewide labor management committees, negotiations, and political action. The President also makes committee appointments, including chairs, which are generally subject to Board approval.

Regions and locals
As stated earlier, MAPE has established 21 regions of the state. Each region has an elected director who serves on the Board of Directors. Regions’ membership numbers are balanced to ensure fair representation. Regions are further subdivided into locals. Locals are geographic units as described in the MAPE Bylaws.

The structure of locals within a region varies. The composition of locals has been determined by the number of MAPE members in the region and is also influenced by the nature of the Region. Some regions are large and have one Local representing the members within the area. While in the tightly populated Regions in St. Paul, a region may be a matter of few blocks with one large Local. Locals are identified by three- or four-digit numbers with the first one or two digits representing the region.

Local activity
A local is the “governing” unit of MAPE most connected to the majority of MAPE members. It is the level where most contact and communication with members takes place. Elaine Bernard, labor activist and scholar, states the local is where members (1) join the union, (2) experience the union, (3) become involved in the union, and shape the character of the union.

A local is also a financial unit with its’ own budget and funds. Each local receives a portion of members’ dues to fund Local activity.

MAPE Bylaws provides the following guidance regarding a Local’s purpose and activity:

A local’s purpose is to provide for direct delivery of member service through regular membership meetings, Local officers and Local stewards. Locals provide grassroots membership direct access to information and services such as contract negotiations, grievance handling and MAPE-provided training and education.

The MAPE Bylaws state that each Local has at least five executive offices (President, Vice President, Secretary, Membership Secretary, and Treasurer) and can elect other officers as necessary.

The Bylaws further indicate that Stewards are also organized around the Local structure. Paralleling the Director, each Region has a Chief Steward who organizes and communicates with the Local Stewards from the Region. Chief Stewards also convene in the Employee Rights Committee (ERC), chaired by the statewide 1st Vice President. The ERC is the state-wide body of the Steward system, and among other things, hears appeals of MAPE-represented employees whose grievances the MAPE’s Arbitration Team has declined to take to Arbitration.

Stewards work with Business Agents, paid staff of MAPE, to enforce the contract through processing grievances, representing employees in investigations, and working with the employer when solutions mutually agreeable to both sides can be identified. Stewards also perform organizing and communication functions.

Meet and confer
The Legislature recognizes that professional employees possess knowledge, expertise, and dedication which is helpful and necessary to the operation and quality of public services and which may assist public employers in developing their policies. It is, therefore, the policy of this state to encourage close cooperation between public employers and professional employees by providing for discussions and mutual exchange of ideas regarding all matters that are not terms and conditions of employment. (Minnesota Statute 179A.08, subd. 1). The ability and insight of professionals warrants specific statutory language within PELRA. In subdivision 2, PELRA sets into law the “meet and confer” process.

The professional employees shall select representatives to meet and confer with a representative or committee of the public employer on matters not specified under section 179A.03, subdivision 19, relating to the services being provided to the public. The public employer shall provide the facilities and set the time for these conferences to take place. The parties shall meet at least once every four months.

The MAPE President, with Board approval, appoints interested members to serve as MAPE representatives on departmental meet and confer teams. These teams, along with a business agent, meet with a department’s commissioner and upper management to discuss issues of mutual concern on a quarterly basis or as needed. Topics have included flextime policies, training policies, workload, pending legislation, budget concerns and classification issues.

In addition, the MAPE contract extends the meet and confer concept (Article 32) to the local level so that consultations between MAPE professionals and management in the workplace can “deal with mutually identified issues through a problem - solving approach.”

Contract negotiations
Every two years, MAPE meets and negotiates a contract with the State of Minnesota that establishes certain terms and conditions of employment for all MAPE represented employees, including pay and benefits such as health care insurance and retirement accounts. The contract is a negotiated agreement between the employer and MAPE. As such, it provides a written guarantee regarding key features of our employment.

Each MAPE region elects a representative member to the MAPE Negotiations Committee. The Statewide President may also appoint up to three at-large members (with certain restrictions) and appoints the Negotiations Committee chair (s). All MAPE members have the opportunity through surveys, feedback to their region’s Negotiations Committee representative, and regional meetings to help determine MAPE’s priorities in negotiations with the State of Minnesota.

The Negotiations Committee works in partnership with MAPE staff. Together they form the “negotiations team,” and engage in direct negotiations with the State of Minnesota representatives selected by the governor to form his or her team.

In addition to the main contract, numerous contract supplements are also negotiated by MAPE members working with MAPE staff. The supplements set terms and conditions of employment specific to state departments and agencies.

Contract settlements must be approved by a vote of MAPE membership and by the Legislature.

Contract enforcement
With the contract in place, MAPE ensures contract enforcement both through agreement with the employer and through dispute with the employer. The contract provides a “Grievance Procedure” for resolving certain kinds of disputes between the State of Minnesota as the employer and MAPE—namely, disputes or disagreements “as to the interpretation or application of any term or terms of this agreement (contract).”

One important function of stewards is contract enforcement. Working with business agents, stewards engage represented employees to understand workplace problems and when necessary initiate the grievance process to address discrepancies between the contract and the employer’s workplace behavior. These disputes often emerge from disciplinary action against specific employees but may involve other violations of the contract by the employer, and may involve a group of employees.

MAPE’s full-time business agents and trained stewards work together to advocate for represented employees in the grievance process. This process includes representing employees in investigations, in grievance hearings, and through arbitration if necessary.

Legislative and Political Affairs
MAPE’s legislative affairs staff works to protect MAPE represented employees’ interests by monitoring proposed legislation, opposing legislation detrimental to MAPE employees, and facilitating the passage of legislation favorable to MAPE represented employees and to successful state operations. The Political Council (PC) comprised of MAPE members, assists the legislative affairs staff with these tasks. They also develop MAPE legislative positions and priorities consistent with members’ interests.

MAPE’s Political Action Committee (PAC) screens, endorses and supports candidates for state office who support MAPE positions, priorities, and objectives.

Other MAPE committees
Check MAPE’s website (www.mape.org) for more information about other committees and for other resources available to stewards, such as the on-line version of the MAPE contract.

Other external relations
MAPE communicates with decision-makers and voters through a number of methods including press events, press releases, and purchased media. To advocate for MAPE priorities, MAPE works with other labor and non-labor organizations. These organizations share MAPE’s values and interests, and strategic partnerships are formed to effectively advance MAPE’s objectives.