May 25, 2017
The Legislature ratified (approved) the MGEC contract in SF No 3 May 25, 2017.
Here is the relevant text of SF No 3 (page 222)
The arbitration award and labor agreement between the state of
Minnesota and the
Minnesota Government Engineering Council, submitted to the Legislative Coordinating
Commission Subcommittee on Employee Relations on July 28, 2016, and implemented as
provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 3.855, subdivision 2, are ratified.
This section is effective retroactively from May 22, 2017.
May 23, 2017
Ratification of the MGEC Contract Imminent
A deal has been worked out to ratify the MGEC Contact. MGEC President Julie Groetsch and Executive Director Dana Wheeler meet with MMB Commissioner Myron Franz Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. to go over the details and address any remaining issues. If the odds going into Monday's session were 55/45 favoring ratification those odds improved Tuesday to 95/5 that the contract will be ratified by Wednesday. The many calls, e-mails and personal contacts by MGEC members helped and clearly kept their issue in the awareness of negotiators.
May 22, 2017
Last Day of Session - time for the MGEC Contract to get a vote. Throughout the weekend, neither House nor Senate brought the MGEC Contract to a vote. MGEC continued talking with leadership. Senate leadership confirmed they plan to bring up the MGEC contract. They don't want to create a situation where they take something away and then have to give it back later. There was discussion that they were going to bring the contract only to the floor late Sunday. That didn't happen. Members of both the House and Senate are observing that Governor Dayton hasn't raised the issue yet. They have not been able to reach agreement on budget bills. There are hundreds of outstanding policies issues in bills that the Governor doesn't want considered. It's past time for the contract to be considered a bargaining chip.
It's looking like a special session may be more likely. The MGEC Board meeting will be post phoned today so members can meet at the capitol to talk to legislators. They need to know that waiting for a special session to ratify the contract only causes problems. MGEC members are encouraged to make a trip to the capitol today. Tell them what you do for the state. Tell them how your compensation compares to the compensation provided by other employers. Pages in offices next to the entry to each house will take notes to legislators asking to see them.
May 19, 2017
The House missed another opportunity to ratify the MGEC contract again yesterday when they failed to suspend the rules to consider HF 0848 (see vote). The State's Engineers, Land Surveyors and Engineering Specialists are dedicated, intelligent, and valued employees! Failure to ratify their contract and arbitration award sends them the wrong message about their value to the state. Their pay is already behind that of other employers for the same work. Why cut their wages five to seven percent to 2015 levels? That's demoralizing and creates undue economic hardship on them. With infrastructure issues at the heart of public discussion, we need these people at their best. Tell your legislators, you increased your own wages, now it's time to "ratify the 2015-2017 MGEC Contract" today!
Ratify the MGEC Contract
Health Care We Can Afford to Use
A strong coalition of 10
unions began health insurance negotiations with the State of
Minnesota this month. Our goal is health care that state
employees and their families can afford to use, says chief
negotiator Jo Pels. The state reports that premiums will
increase $104 million over the next two years—and the employer
wants to shift $72 million of that increase onto state
employees. That’s unacceptable. The high cost of coverage is
driven by the insurance industry and pharmaceutical giants, not
by our overuse of medical care. The employer proposes increasing
our premiums. For example, singles who currently pay $33.24 each
month would pay twice as much: $66.48. Families that now pay
$226.77 a month would pay $324.53.
Under this proposal, the employer shifts $32.4 million onto state employees, making health care unaffordable for many of us. Worse yet, the employer would also shift an additional $39.4 million onto state employees by increasing our out-of-pocket costs and our copays for prescription drugs and office visits. Our health insurance plan covers 143,546 lives. Every one of those people matter to us. Rest assured our union coalition won’t leave anyone behind when we return to the table to bargain health care on May 24-25.
Current Status of Paid Parental Leave
Paid Parental Leave will not continue after May 22 without legislative action
As you know, the state has been providing PPL to eligible employees covered by negotiated PPL Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) that were given interim approval by the legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER). For the state to continue to provide PPL after session ends to employees covered under the MOUs, and to offer PPL to employees covered under the compensation plans listed below, the Legislature must act this session. The legislative session is scheduled to adjourn at midnight on May 22.
MGEC members meeting and stepping up contacting legislators seeking ratification of the MGEC Contract
Pizza, Pop & Politics make up just a few of the items being digested by MGEC members at worksite meetings.
MGEC members are taking steps to ensure their 2015-2017 Contract is ratified and share their opinions on current legislation with elected officials. Check the MGEC calendar (above) for meetings. E-Mails have been sent to members encouraging them to contact key officials at each point of the process.
The Legislature, through HF 691, seeks to reduce the number of state employees and limit future wage increases.
1. Bill eliminates language that provides for a collective bargaining agreement or arbitration award going into effect if the commission fails to reject it or after thirty days. (lines 28.8-28.9). In other words, SER would have to approve a contract, MOU or arbitration award before it could take effect. Political agendas would affect the timeline for implementation of Contracts, MOUs or Awards. We don't support this.
2. Limits the number of FTE employees to in all executive branch agencies to 31,691 (lines 45.21 – 46.1), a reduction of 3,000-6,000 state employees. The commissioner may authorize an agency to provide an early retirement incentive under which the state continues to make employer contribution for health insurance after the employee has terminated state service. Reduction in staff should prioritize protecting client-facing health care workers, corrections officers, public safety workers and mental health workers. Savings from staff reductions may not be used for other programs or used to increase the number of FTEs. Arbitrarily limiting the number of state employees is not the way to save money. State employees are often the most cost effective, provide for greater transparency of services and most informed so we don't support this.
3. Severance pay may not exceed the lesser of six months’ pay or 35 percent of the employees accumulated but unused sick leave hours (lines 46.29 – 47.2). Severance may exceed six months’ pay if part of an early retirement incentive. We don't support law that takes away already negotiated benefits.
4. During FY2018 the aggregate wages for employees may not increase by more than 1%; For FY2019 the increase to wages cannot be more than 3% of what they were ending FY2017. In other words, no more than a total of 3% wage increase over the next two years combined. We don't support the legislature setting wage limits when negotiations happen with the administration. Furthermore, setting firm limits on wages increases eliminates an arbitrator's authority to resolve pay inequity issues. When you can't reach a voluntary settlement and your only option is arbitration, the arbitrator ought to be empowered to make a decision based on the facts and not limited by less informed politics.
Seeks Passage of the 2015-17 Contract
MGEC Golf Event (Wednesday, 9/6/17) To register, contact Oak Marsh at: 651-730-8886 x3 or by e-mail: Om@wpgolf.com. or go to the Oak Marsh registration link: http://www.wpgolf.com/oakmarsh/mgec.aspx The MGEC Annual meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.
November 9, 2016
Double check your (back) pay
A handful of members found errors in the calculation of their back pay. It's difficult to provide a formula that works for everyone because of difference (number hours worked, step increases, job changes) so any employee seeking help should contact their Human Resources office.
September 6, 2016
MGEC Dues Set for 2017
Dues for MGEC members, Associate members and fair share fees will see the first dues increase in six years in January 2017. The boards commitment to provide for the rising cost of arbitrations, attorneys, having a reserve to protect employees future interests in shutdowns, layoff, grievance and bargaining led them to increase dues (something not done for six years) to the level provided for in the MGEC Constitution & By-Laws which is one-half of the first step of Range 9 of the MGEC contract. Effective in January dues will go up from $12.00 per pay period to $14.35. (Approximately half of the increase is due to the application of constitutional language and half is due to the increase in wages due from 2015 & 2016.) Application of the constitutional language takes dues from a set amount and indexes them to the rates of the contract. (Associate members dues will be $4.78; Fair share fee $12.20)
July 28, 2016
Interest Arbitration Award
The arbitrator's decision is in. It's a split decision. In many ways it's a big win for MGEC. First of all, rest assured, there will be back pay to July 1st of 2015 & 2016. Look for it in your October check.
MGEC has been working on compensation studies since 2007. The study results have been shared with members and have been a primary factor in the proposals MGEC has made in the last rounds of bargaining. MGEC has argued to the State that market rates for work done by MGEC members be recognized and steps taken to adjust compensation accordingly. The arbitrator found the study results compelling. He also upheld MGEC's claim that the State must consider market rates as one of four factors when setting compensation. The State has basically disregarded that requirement in favor of "pattern bargaining." The State claim was that "turnover" is the primary factor they consider when deciding if outside market rates become a factor in setting compensation. The arbitrator didn't agree.
What is the outcome? All pay steps will be increased by 2.5% July 1 of 2015 and again 2016. The top step increase for pay ranges 9, 11 and 14 will be 3.5% rather than 2.5%. Those pay ranges cover the positions of Senior Engineer, Senior Land Surveyor, Radio Engineer 2, Principal Engineer, Principal Land Surveyor, Administrative Engineer, Administrative Land Surveyor. While only some of these positions were shown to be most under compensated based on compensation studies, all positions on these ranges benefited from this change. This is meant to be a small first step to partially rectify the compensation disparity. The arbitrator suggested the parties do more work to resolve remaining compensation disparity where they exist in the next round of bargaining.
MGEC sought to increase the pay range for Engineering Specialists Seniors from Range 7 to Range 8. The arbitrator did not award this. He left this to the parties to address and suggested a "why now" test must be applied to justify a change not supported by the compensation study. MGEC previously recognized a problem for this classification is already working to address this in the upcoming 2016 compensation study so that more accurate wage comparison might be determined.
What's next? The award and MGEC contract went go the Legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations for consideration. If the committee doesn't act or doesn't reject the new contract/award within thirty day of receiving it, it should go into effect thereafter (likely October). Even when in effect, the contract/award would still go before the legislature for a vote at whatever time they bring it up (likely 2017).
Employees who have left state employment since July 1, 2015 should contact their employer (agency) or MMB asking for the retroactive back pay. They may also want to perhaps contact MSRS if they are getting retirement benefits to inform them of the increase and ask them to determine if their benefits will increase.
Arbitrator Wallin's Award
Congratulations to MGEC members & the MGEC Board for the determination and long hard work to do everything reasonable to get a better contract!
June 6, 2016
Two days of hearings were held June 2-3 pertaining to the MGEC contract successor agreement. How did it go? MGEC is pleased that the information conveyed by the evidence and examples provided by witnesses were clear and thorough. Attorney James Michaels, for MGEC provided the rationale and supporting documentation for the increases sought. The arbitrator is free to fashion any remedy deemed appropriate. We believe that the State's wage proposal of 2.5% each July 1 (retroactive to 2015 & 2016) is the starting point for the arbitrator. The next step of the process is for both parties to submit "briefs" to the arbitrator by July 1. The brief will pull together the evidence and testimony as coherent arguments supporting MGEC final economic proposals; so more details can be provided after that point. Provided everything is complete, the arbitrator then has thirty days to prepare his award. Once the award is received, if MGEC were to receive any of the additional remedies sought: an equity adjustment for Senior Engineering Specialists and/or another one percent each year at the top step for all classes in order to move in the direction of market rates, and/or an additional deferred $100 compensation match for all employees, the award would then go to the Legislative Subcommittee on Employees for a vote.
MGEC Golf Tournament
It's always fun with a noon shotgun start Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Sign up today by calling Oak Marsh Golf Course at 651-730-886 or visit their website at: