The two largest state government unions reached tentative contract agreements with the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton, giving raises to more than 30,000 state workers of 2.5 percent in July 2015 and another 2.5 percent in 2016.
"It's a proper balance between managing the state budget and a good pay package for the employees" that will help recruit, develop and retain a solid workforce, said Myron Frans, commissioner of Management and Budget.
The money for the raises will come from agency budgets passed during the recent legislative session, during which the Republican-controlled House and DFL-controlled Senate agreed to a 5 percent increase in state spending during the next two years, which was relatively modest compared with the two-year period ending June 30.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' negotiating committee is recommending the tentative deal, which would cover 17,500 state workers. It includes the 2.5 percent raises, as well as step increases for qualified employees who hit certain agreed-upon markers, according to an e-mail the union sent to AFSCME state employees Friday. An AFSCME spokeswoman said the union has a policy of not commenting publicly until talking to members about tentative agreements.
The board of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) is also recommending passage of its own separate agreement, which covers 13,000 workers and likewise includes step increases.
AFSCME represents front-line workers, while MAPE represents professional and managerial employees.
The agreements include health care increases for workers that MAPE called "manageable."
The two unions worked together to secure the contracts, according to the MAPE release.
The unions and state government also agreed on a paid family leave task force that will study the feasibility of adopting the benefit.
Frans will negotiate contracts with an additional seven state government unions.
State government employs about 36,000 workers; the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system employs another 14,000 workers.