The long road of Minnesota's state labor contracts is nearing an end.
The Minnesota Senate, after considerable debate, voted 40-25 to approve a package of contracts negotiated between the state and a number of unions, including two of the largest -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5, and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.
The contracts must still be approved by the Minnesota House, which may take them up next week.
The agreements, which were voted down by a Republican-controlled Legislative committee last summer, have met a more favorable reception since the DFL took control of the Legislature in January.
Other unions whose contracts were approved by the Senate include the Middle Management Association, the State Residential Schools Education Association, and AFSCME's correctional officers unit. The Commissioners and Mangerial plans were also approved.
The contracts generally call for a 2 percent across-the-board wage hike in addition to continuing the annual seniority increases for those who qualify.
Republicans complained that the contracts were too expensive and do not require workers to contribute anything for individual health care coverage. But defenders of the pacts said the employees have worked years without an across-the-board hike and were hit hard by the state shutdown in the summer of 2011.