What a difference an election makes.

The DFL-controlled Subcommittee on Employee Relations approved a raft of labor agreements with state workers Monday.

The agreements were substantially the same as those rejected by the same committee when Republicans held the majority last year.

With strong support from public employee unions, the DFL regained control in the Nov. 6 election, and now appoints a majority of members to the 10-member panel.

The contracts passed by 6-3 votes, with all DFLers voting to approve them, three GOP members voting against them, and one GOP member absent. Last year, all GOP members on the panel voted to reject the contracts, and four DFL members voted to approve them.

This was an initial recommendation as the contracts make their way through the Legislative process and to full floor votes. But the turnaround suggests the contracts will move quickly through the Legislature this year.

The contracts and two compensation plans cover seven separate groups of workers, and all call for a two percent across-the-board increase retroactive to Jan. 2. The two largest agreements cover workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.

They contracts cover the current biennium. Employees have continued to work under the old agreement.

Supporters said the agreements provided modest increases, while opponents said the contracts did not base increases on merit or market forces.



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