State Contracts Move Forward
Submitted by AFSCME Council 5
Bills are moving through the Legislature to finally approve the 2011-2013 state contracts. That would give state workers their first pay raise in three-and-a-half years. The joint Subcommittee on Employee Relations approved the contracts on January 28 with a 6-3 vote; all Democrats voted yes, all Republicans voted no, Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) was absent. This is the same subcommittee that, under Republican control, rejected the contracts last August. But this time – without AFSCME members in the audience – the debate was less heated. Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) reminded his colleagues that state employees lost $65 million in wages during the shutdown. Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) countered that nothing was lost – no work means no pay. Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) says the contract agreement spreads “money like peanut butter.” Despite that opposition, the state contracts are on a glide path to passage. The contracts now go to House and Senate committees before receiving floor votes and the governor’s signature. Once that happens, new provisions kick in, including the 2 percent pay raise workers were supposed to receive on Jan. 2. The AFSCME contracts, which cover more than 18,000 members, run through June 30.