About 32,000 workers will get 3 percent annual pay raises and will pay more for health insurance.
About 32,000 unionized state employees have ratified contracts that call for pay hikes of 3 percent per year, the biggest increases they’ve received since the national economy nosedived in 2007-08.
Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), representing 19,000 workers, and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, (MAPE), representing 13,000, announced their ratification vote on Monday.
“The raise you see here is in line with what the private sector is getting,” said MAPE spokeswoman Leslie Sandberg. “We’ve sacrificed, like everyone else.”
The agreements apply to a wide range of state employees that includes correctional workers, clerical employees, road maintenance workers and professional employees. They call for annual “step” increases for years of service to continue, in addition to across-the-board hikes.
Health insurance, which drew criticism from Republican legislators because single employees previously made no contribution, will require an additional 5 percent contribution from all workers beginning in January 2015, union officials said.
MAPE workers embraced the deal with a 97 percent approval. AFSCME did not announce its vote totals. The contracts, which must be ratified by a legislative panel and the full Legislature, will be retroactive to July 1, union officials said.
Sandberg said the 2007-08 agreement, with increases of 3.25 percent, was the last across-the-board increase of this size. The unions went without across-the-board pay hikes for several years before receiving a 2 percent hike this Jan. 1, she said. Sandberg and Jennifer Munt, an AFSCME spokeswoman, said a review of private-sector hikes this year found that the 3 percent figure is comparable, now that the economy is improving.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a 3 percent raise,” Munt said.
The contracts are negotiated between the unions and officials at Minnesota Management and Budget. A spokesman for the department, John Pollard, said AFSCME and MAPE represent the overwhelming majority of unionized workers. Several smaller unions are in various stages of the ratification process.
The agreement calls for a 5 percent employee contribution, beginning in 2015, for single health insurance premiums, which previously were paid entirely by the state. That will affect all employees. Those who also have dependent coverage will continue to pay 15 percent of that cost, union officials said.
Health insurance payments were a major source of complaint during the last round of negotiations, when the House and Senate were controlled by Republican majorities. In August 2012, a GOP-controlled employee committee rejected the pacts. But after an election in which the DFL gained control with considerable help from the unions, the same contracts were approved by a DFL-controlled committee. Munt said she believes these contracts also will meet with approval. “It shouldn’t be a problem with a Democratic majority,” she said.
The contracts will be forwarded to the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, which must act within 30 days or the contract goes into effect, according to a statement from MAPE. The contract goes into effect if it is approved by the committee and shelved if it is turned down. In either case, the full Legislature gets the final say when the next session begins on Feb. 25, 2014.
Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042