July 3, 2017

MGEC Election Notice

Nominations are open for serving on the MGEC Board. Meetings are the fourth Monday from 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. Expenses and stipends provided. Positions for election include Vice President (1 yr. VP / 1 yr. President / 1 yr. Past President), Treasurer (2 year term) and Directors (4 spots).  Deadline for nomination is 4:30 p.m. September 15, 2017. Contact MGEC to nominate yourself.

 

MGEC Awards & Scholarships

Golden Slide Rule Award recognizes persons activity in the following categories: Technical Achievement, Societal Involvement, Partnerships, Papers Submitted or Scholastic Achievement.

 

Distinguished Citizenship Award recognizes activity in the following areas: Service in local, state or national politics; Service in community, charitable or civic activities; Volunteer work; or Military Service.

Nominations for MGEC Awards taken through 4:30 p.m. August 25, 2017.  Contact MGEC with your nomination.

 

Scholarships

Family Member Scholarships are provided for two people in the amount of $500.00. Eligible person should meet one of the following relationships to members: children, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, siblings, and legal wards. Applications should be made by 4:30 p.m., August 25, 2017. Contact MGEC with your application.

 

Connie Minetor Memorial Scholarship for MGEC members to assist thos seeking to attain a degree or advanced degree in engineering or land surveying, or seeking additional work-related training. Contact MGEC with your application.

 

 

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)

ARTICLE 23

RATIFICATIONS

Section 1. LABOR AGREEMENT RATIFIED; MINNESOTA GOVERNMENT 
ENGINEERING COUNCIL.

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.

EFFECTIVE DATE. 

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. Assurances were given by all parties that employees won't see their pay cut. 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

The process or ratifying the MGEC contract continues with negotiations between the Legislature and Governor Dayton in two weeks. The Legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations will have a public hearing on the MGEC contract May 15th at 9:00 a.m. Their recommendation can be helpful to our bill which seems to have bi-partisan support. Please act ow, contact leadership asking them to ratify the MGEC contract. We need to keep ratification of the contract on their minds.

Governor Dayton

Senate: Michelle Fischback (Senate President), Michelle Benson (Deputy Majority Leader), Julie Rosen (Finance Committee Chair)  

House: Joyce Peppin (Majority Leader), Kurt Daudt (Speaker) and Jim Knoblach (Chair of Ways and Means).

Speaking points - "ratifying the contract is the right thing to do."

 

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.

 

 

MGEC Seeks Passage of the 2015-17 Contract

MGEC Legislative Committee member and Past President, John Siekmeier, joined other MGEC officers seeking passage of SF673 and HF848 which pass the MGEC 2015/17 Contract. Without passage, the day after the Legislature adjourns, wages for MGEC members revert to those of the levels of the prior agreement as of 6/30/2015 resulting in a 5-7% pay cut. The Legislature passed all other state employee contracts and plans in 2016.

Within the next few weeks,  the Legislature may vote to approve funding for a long overdue 45% increase ($14,000) to their own wages. Both the House and Senate bills, which contain the MGEC contract, also contain the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) that provided Paid Parental Leave (PPL) for state employees. Republican leadership, dismayed at the Governor approving and implementing PPL when they were not in session, stopped either bill from getting a hearing before the 3-10-17 deadline. It's plain politics. Having the MGEC contract, tied to the same bill as PPL, makes for political bargaining chips. The Governor and legislators need to hear from MGEC members to find a way to pass the MGEC contract. Communicate to your representatives by phone and e-mail as well as Legislative Leaders. Sample language

Contact Governor Dayton at https://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/

Contact Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka 

Contact House Speaker Representative Kurt Daudt

 

MGEC One Pager Seeking Passage of 2015-2017 Contract

 

Governor's Pension Reform Plan

Much attention has been drawn recently to challenges other states have experienced with their public pension
plans. Minnesota state legislators and governors have historically worked together on a bipartisan basis to
maintain the financial soundness of Minnesota’s public pension plans. Unlike some other states, Minnesota has
been disciplined in properly funding and managing its liabilities for the three statewide plans. Minnesota has
been proactive to correct problems and prevent adverse long-term financial impacts.


MMB Commissioner Myron Frans met with unions and pension plans to discuss the Governor's Pension Reform Plan. Employees seek secure fully funded pensions. To that end, MSRS proposes participants contribute $711 million in benefit COLA reductions and contribute 0.5% more in payroll pretax contributions. The Governor recognizes that increasing the plans level of funding increases the State's bond rating. In 2016 that went from AA to AAA. A better bond rating saves millions of dollars for the State wish sold $800 million in bond in 2016 and seeks significantly greater bonding in 2017. To that end, the Governor proposes to provide funds to agencies to increase the employer retirement contribution by 1.5% from 5.5% to 7%. In FY2009 the national median employer contribution was 9.4%. 

Minnesota’s public pension systems serve one-half million persons, nearly 1 in 10 Minnesotans. Approximately 90 percent of public retirees stay in Minnesota, purchase goods and services in the state and pay state taxes. According to an economic impact study, Minnesota public pensions had a $3.3 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2006 (Lubov, 2008). The economic impact study also estimated that public retiree spending stimulated the creation of 22,500 additional jobs in Minnesota in 2006. The study estimated that public retiree spending, combined with these additional jobs, generated $80 million more in state taxes than what was paid by public employers into the three statewide systems.

 

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.

MGEC Brief

State Brief

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

Interest Arbitration

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:

http://www.wpgolf.com/oakmarsh/mgec.aspx