September 3, 2014

Mark your calendars - MGEC Golf Tournament - Banquet - Annual Meeting on September 18, 2014

Register Now (Use your home computer since some work computers are blocking such registration) The activities will be at the Oak Marsh Golf Club. Dinner is free for members but dinner registration is due by 9-11-14. The low golf rate and beautiful hospitable course make for a great afternoon with your co-workers. This is always an annual highlight. Rub elbows with the MnDOT big wigs and representatives from golf event sponsors: Stonebrooke, Hiway Credit Union, Braun Intertec, WSP, SRF and MAPD.

MGEC Golf Event 2014.pdf for the flyer or Register Now (Use your home computer since some work computers are blocking such registration)

Awards & Scholarships

Scholarships are available for members and their family members. Scholarship Information. E-mail your scholarship application to mgec@mgec.org Deadline for scholarship applications if 4:30 p.m. on September 12, 22014.

MGEC Awards recognize members for their technical or public service contributions. Award Information. Please take a moment to identify someone you thing deserving of a little additional recognition. E-mail your award nominees to mgec@mgec.org

 

MGEC Elections

MGEC Elections take place November 4th with ballots sent out electronically two weeks prior. Board meetings are the 4th Monday of each month from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.  Open positions include: Vice President (1 year VP, 1 year Pres., 1 year Past Pres.) and Secretary (2015-2016). Also open are five Director positions (2015-2016). Board members are eligible for monthly stipends and expenses. All members are encouraged to run for office. Board service offers members an opportunity to provide leadership, meet with Agency leadership, get to know other members.  It's true, it looks good on a resume and the networking helps with future opportunities. Deadline for nominations is 4:30 September 30, 2014.

MGEC Representative to MFESTS is wanted

The Minnesota Federation of Engineering, Science, and Technology Societies is seeking a representative from MGEC to serve on their Board of Directors. They meet quarterly one evening for two hours (usually in Richfield at the VFW). If you are interested in this opportunity contact MGEC or MFESTS. This is an opportunity to meet with representatives from other organizations doing good work in the science and engineering field.

 

Supporting MGEC members

A recent grievance seeks to provide retroactive back pay for a past member who has separated employment with the state but was eligible for back pay to do the last round of contract negotiations. The State requires those who separate employment to individually request their back pay.  In this instance they disallowed the back pay because the past employee didn't make that request until after the fiscal year. We think the state ought to properly pay current and past employees whenever any agreement is negotiated affecting a period of the employment.

An employee suffered health conditions that made it impossible to work for a lengthy period of time. MGEC worked with the employer to reverse their termination of employment and allow the employee time needed to return to work successfully.  A trained experienced employee is a valuable asset and everyone benefits when flexibility can help accommodate life's curveballs and yet keep a valued employee in place completing state work.

A member disputed a long suspension and raised points for management to consider with regard to work flow. An agreement was reached to the satisfaction of the retiring employee and employer. In another instance, the grievance process clarified issues where there had been a lack of good communication for 10-15 years. Arbitrary discipline was reduced and improved awareness of issues provides future guidance.

MGEC will meet with MnDOT Human Resources representatives to discuss a few issues. 1) Historically once an engineer passed the PE exam, they were given duties and a classification of a Senior Engineer. MnDOT stopped this long standing practice without consulting with MGEC. 2) Recently several positions were filled with lateral applicants. This resulted in additional openings to fill the positions vacated by the first round of candidates. That's how the contract language is meant to work.

 

July 15, 2014

MGEC Board Appoints Past President Jerry Kotzenmacher to fill MGEC Secretary Office vacancy created by retirement  Mike Lownsbury in July.

 

 

June 16, 2014

Golf Tournament - Banquet - Annual Meeting

Register for the MGEC/MAPD Golf Tournament today. It's September 18, 2014 at the Oak Marsh Golf Club.

MGEC Golf Event 2014.pdf for the flyer or Register Now

Are you interested in a non-Metro area Golf Event? Contact MGEC with your suggested locations (city and golf course contact information) today.

 

March 20, 2014

Professional Development Opportunities

Free seminars for your personal or professional interests sponsored by MAPD (Minnesota Association for Professional Development) at the MGEC offices. Some topics may be approved for work time attendance. Ethics will qualify for CE for licensure.  Limited space - RSVP to sign up today.  Lunch free to MAPD members.  Others are welcome to join MAPD (it's a reimbursable expense under your MGEC contract) and gain access to many benefits.  See MAPD Day Seminar Brochure

Contracts Soon to be in the mail

MGEC Contract will be mailed to those who requested them next week.  The 2013-2015 contract is on-line at the MGEC Contract button just left of this message.

MGEC Legislative Issues & Position Papers

MGEC has two position papers in 2014.  They can be found  under the links button.  Over the past two weeks members of the MGEC Legislative Committee have met with thirty legislators and more meetings will take place this week.  Two keys transportation issues call for maintaining our infrastructure assets before adding to them and providing MnDOT with the ability to pay staff, as they do consultants, from transportation construction funds, when it's cost effective to do so.  Along with other bargaining units, MGEC is also seeking to modify PELRA, (Public Employment Labor Relations Act with House file 2926 that would provide for the BMS (Bureau of Mediation Service) to investigate and rule on Unfair Labor Practices. This would be an alternative to court activity.

MGEC & State of Minnesota Compensation Study Summary - Summary results can be found under Links

 

February 18, 2014

New 2013-2015 Contract Approved

The Legislative Subcommittee on employee Relations approved the MGEC 2013-2015 Contract today and so it is now in effect.  Current employee should see the pay raise and back pay effective to July 1, 2013 take effect in about two pay periods.  Past employees should write a letter to their Agency requesting back pay for the difference between their pay rate and the new rate which is effective back to 7/1/13.

 

January 28, 2014

Shutdown Arbitration

Current status regard the shutdown arbitration: The arbitrator has had the entire case in his hands since about Dec. 6th.  A week ago we heard he was just starting to work on it.  So I’m hoping we hear a decision from him in 45 days or so.  All MGEC members who were not allowed to work during the 2011 shutdown are included in the primary argument MGEC made. 

Move MN

MGEC supports the efforts of many to address the condition of Minnesota's transportation infrastructure.  Engaging the public in the discussion and economic consideration if the state is to afford maintaining and or improving the infrastructure is important. This is important to all Minnesotans, to business and commerce, to citizens.  Weigh in at MoveMN We support transportation funding that meets these objectives.

 

 

January 23, 2014

Contract Update - MMB just conveyed the new contract to the Legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations. We can expect them to meet to approve the contract in the next thirty day.  Likely, pay increases and back pay will be delayed until late February or early March.

MGEC Committees - Any members interested in being on an MGEC committee is welcome to sign up.  The column on the left lists the committees.  Email your interest to mgec@mgec.org.

Transportation Day - MGEC joins others in advocating for transportation funding.  The Minnesota Transportation Alliance hosts "Transportation Day" on March 13, 2014.  Persons interested in participating should sign up at: www.transportationalliance.com.

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January 1, 2014

     Happy New Year from your new 2014 MGEC Board

 

President

Blake Nelson

MnDOT

Principal Engineer

Vice President

Mohammad Dehdashti

MnDOT

Principal Engineer

Past President

Jerry Kotzenmacher

MnDOT

Senior Engineering Specialist

Secretary – 2014

Michael Lownsbury

MnDOT

Senior Engineer

Treasurer - 2015

Linda Heath

MnDOT

Principal Engineer

Director – 2014

Scott Knowles

MPCA

Principal Engineer

Director -  2014

Kenneth Hansen

MnDOT

Graduate 2 Engineer

Director – 2014

Gene Hicks

MnDOT

Principal Engineer

Director – 2014

Eric Anderson

MnDOT

Engineering Specialist

Director – 2014

Jeff Cremin

MPS

Senior Engineer

Director – 2015

Julie Groetsch

MnDOT

Principal Land Surveyor

Director – 2015

Lisa Mojsiej

MPCA

Senior Engineer

Director – 2015

Steve Kordosky

MnDOT

Administrative Engineer

Director – 2015

Bruce Johnson

MnDOT

Senior Engineering Specialist

 

December 23, 2013

MGEC members approve the Tentative Agreement with the State of MN for  2013-2015.

It's expected the Legislative Subcommittee on Employee relations will review the contract in January.  With their approval, members can expect to see 3% raises retroactive to July 1, 2013.  Two overdue increases taking place January 1, 2014 will be the increase of the annual dental benefit from $1,000 to $1,500 and an increase to meal allowances (Breakfast $9.00, Lunch $11.00 and Dinner $16.00 or $11/$13/$20 for listed metropolitan areas).

MGEC Committee Opportunities

Members are welcome to join MGEC working committees.  Express interest by phone or e-mail to mgec@mgec.org.

 

December 6, 2013

Vote on the 2013-2015 Contract Proposal

MGEC members have been sent the link to vote electronically on the tentative new agreement. If you do not receive this link at your e-mail from your MGEC Contact Person then contact Dana.Wheeler@mgec.org for a ballot. Voting continues through 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.

 

November 26, 2013

Tentative Agreement reached for the 2013-2015 Contract

The Board approved of sending the tentative agreement to the membership for a vote with a recommendation to approve the contract. An e-mail summarizing of the details has been sent to MGEC members and the official electronic voting process will begin as soon as possible. If approved by the membership, the next step will be for the Legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations to approve of the agreement, probably sometime in January of 2014, with back pay following in February. Included in the settlement are 3% across the board pay increases on July 1st of 2013 & 2014 as well as the continuation of progression steps.

 

Safety Equipment

A class action grievance pertaining to the employer violation of the contract when they limited reimbursement for safety boots to $100  will go to arbitration February 5, 2014.  In the past MGEC has asked employees who have suffered loss of reimbursement  to contact MGEC with documentation show the amount expensed and amount reimbursed.  Anyone who continues to submit such documentation may be awarded the unreimbursed amount.  At the same time, if employees have been reimbursed more than the state's artificial limit of $100, please  inform MGEC with any details and documentation they might have.  Those instances where reimbursement complied with the contract will help others as MGEC makes it's case to uphold language bargained in good faith.

 

November 14, 2013

Sign up today for free Job Audit assistance with Labor Relations expert Bob Haag. Job Audit Meeting

Open Enrollment

Today is the last day for employees to make Open Enrollment selections.

Bargaining

The Bargaining Team met all day Tuesday, November 12 with the State and Mediator.  There is agreement to provide shift differential of $.65 per hour to employees of the MnDOT Radio Operations Center (for assigned shifts starting before 6 a.m. or ending after 7 p.m.).  Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) refused to remove On-Call language from the control that treats employees of the MDH differently ($200.00 per week versus $280.00) than it does other employees.  The State stuck to their pattern bargaining proposal of 3% ATB each July 1st and a 5% employee health insurance premium increase to all employees effective 1/1/15.  They continued to reject all other economic proposals, even though with no cost due to employers discretion; and so discussions continue November 19th.

1)

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November 4, 2013

Survey & Election

An important survey will be coming out to MGEC members.  Please take a moment to complete it.

It will include your opportunity to vote on your MGEC Officers and Directors.  It also seeks to learn who does not have family dental and is interested in signing up for family dental this Open Enrollment.  Both issues are very important and we ask you to complete the survey ASAP.

Open Enrollment & Bargaining

MGEC met with the State making a comprehensive offer for a tentative agreement before Open Enrollment for the insurance began. The State did not accept the offer and made it clear they won’t accept it when bargaining resumes.  Meanwhile, Open Enrollment began November 1.  MGEC represented employees should participate in this Open Enrollment as if an agreement were in place.  If an agreement for insurance is not reached before year end, the employer may contact employees who sought to sign up for family dental coverage and inform them they will not be allowed such coverage.  This is not an issue for employees already having family dental coverage. 

Note the link to clinic choice below.  Check clinic tier levels, which have changed, so that you may choose the provider (Health Partners, Preferred One, Blue Cross) that has the best pricing on the clinics you want. 

For employees setting aside pre-tax dollars, note that the 5% employee paid premium change is not effective (if agreed to) until 2015 so it’s not an issue this calendar year.

Open Enrollment began November 1st and will end on November 4th, 2013.   During this period you have the opportunity to gain a $5.00 reduction in your office visit co-pays if you complete the StayWell Personal Health Assessment (PHA) AND agree to accept a call from a health professional.  If you've taken the PHA but are unsure about whether you've agreed to accept a call, you can log-in to the system again and double check and/or update your PHA at any time during Open Enrollment using the link below or you can contact the StayWell Help Line at 855-428-6320 to inquire about this portion of the PHA. 

https://SEGIP.staywell.com.

Bargaining of the contract for 2013-2015 continues November 12th, 2013 with Mediator Dan Vannelli from the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services.  Mr. Vannelli has years of experience both as a mediator and  labor relations representative, both for employees in law enforcement and also for the City of St. Paul. At worksite meetings, members have been clear about their prioritization to resolve pay issues. MGEC looks forward to reaching a tentative agreement that the membership can vote on soon.

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October 28, 2013

Bargaining Continues

Bargaining of the contract for 2013-2015 continued on October 21 and 23. Additional dates are being set. The State claims that most MGEC classifications are being paid equitably. They acknowledge that 1)  there is a significant difference in average and maximum pay for the Administrative Engineer classification compared to other employers; and 2) that Senior Engineering Specialists and Senior Engineers have the same number of Hay points attributed to the work done with these classifications but the pay is different.  The state has all but proposed 3% and 3% across the board wage increases and continues to focus on acceptance of the insurance article negotiated with others. Other issues being discussed include but are not limited to expense reimbursements, accurate time reporting, overtime, vacation deferred compensation, equitable pay and others.

2011 Shutdown Arbitration

Hearings for the 2011 Shutdown that resulted in employees being locked out have concluded almost a year after they began.  Both sides have until December 6th to submit briefs.  An arbitrator's decision may be made by February.

Clinic costs vary by network

Open enrollment begins November 1.  There are many changes to the cost of clinics.  In some cases, the same clinic might be in different price level tiers depending on the provider network (i.e. Health Partners, Preferred One, BCBS) so it’s important each employee check and choose the provider network that offer the best pricing on their clinic(s). The 2014 Primary Care Clinic Directory and Open Enrollment Information are now available on the MMB website.  Go to: www.mmb.state.mn.us.  Click on Open Enrollment 2014 in the Blue New & Announcements Box from the middle of the page.  From there you’ll find Open Enrollment informational meetings that are occurring this week and next, as well as Retiree Open Enrollment meetings.

Meeting, Dinner, Tour Opportunity

MGEC members, as members of MFESTS, are invited to the AIAA November Meeting, Tour and Dinner Event on Tuesday, November 5th starting at 5:30 p.m.

Event Information

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October 14, 2013

2013-2015 Contract Negotiations Update

It’s not customary for MGEC to reveal bargaining proposals while negotiations continue.  However, there has been some misinformation out there recently and so for this reason MGEC needs to use this forum to correct misinformation.  MGEC made many proposals and included some pertaining to wages and insurances.  In its opening proposal, MGEC proposed the new contract include annual progression steps for employees performing satisfactorily and not at the top of their pay scale and 3.0% ATB increases effective July 1st of 2013 & 2014.  Additionally, MGEC proposed adding a step for employees at the top of their pay scale for five years in order to preserve institutional knowledge and expertise.  Further MGEC is working to achieve pay equity for positions shown to be below market levels. 

 

The state’s proposals covered the entire contract except wages.  They have not proposed any raises or annual progression steps.  The State’s proposal for insurance includes a new provision that employees pay 5% of the employee portion of the premium and an increase in premium for family dental. It also includes increasing the dental benefit annual max from $1,000 to $1,500.

 

As noted previously, the next negotiation dates are October 21, and 23, 2013.

 

Federal Shutdown

Hundreds of state employees are slated for layoff.  Initially, the employer informed MGEC that seven positions would be laid off.  Members from the Minnesota Department of Health whose positions are 50% federally and 50% state funded pointed out that they have enough “state work” to keep them busy and that in October the State will begin to collect fees pertaining to Plan Review federal work they do.  Such fees offset temporary loss of federal funds.  MDH did not want to lay off the employees and concurred by rescinding the layoff notices.  Two more employees working for Military Affairs are told they will be laid off.  MGEC continues to work to address this situation.

 

Position Opening

MGEC will have a part-time (2/3 time) opening for an Administrative Assistant and is seeking candidates for such a position.  Anyone interested in learning more about this position should contact MGEC.

 

MGEC Elections

Nominations remain open for Board positions through 4:30 p.m. October 15, 2013.  Anyone with any interest or questions is encouraged to contact MGEC at 651-774-0996.  Offices with openings include: Vice President, Treasurer, and Director (4). See the Sept. 28 update below for a list of candidates.

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September 28, 2013

2013 - 2015 Contract Negotiations:

Recently the employer circulated a memo showing that contracts or plans from some groups had been passed by the Legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations.  The MGEC contract is not listed because negotiations continue.  So far, the State has not made any offers for wage increases or progression steps.  They are holding off waiting for MGEC to agree to the insurance changes they negotiated with others.  They refused to allow MGEC to participate fully in those negotiations.  We believe insurance issues and other economic issues need to be bargained with the representatives of each contract and so MGEC is waiting on them to respond to our proposals which included language and economic issues.  Other bargaining units that have not settled yet include:  MNA (Nurses), MLEA (Law Enforcement) and SRSEA (Teachers).  Based on conversations with MGEC members, we know that most of our members want us to have long ignored pay inequity issues addressed in this round of bargaining and that they are willing to wait for their retroactive pay increases to do so.  The next dates set for bargaining are October 21 and 23rd.

 

Compensation Study:

The results of the 2013 Compensation study of classes MGEC represents as compared to similar jobs for other private and public sector employers should be finalized and will be made available to members as soon as the State responds to MGEC input pertaining to the summary report.

 

Worksite MGEC Meetings:

Interested in having an MGEC meeting at your worksite?  Contact your MGEC Contact Representative to have them set up an MGEC meeting.  Any topic is welcome – certainly we’ll touch on negotiations, arbitrations, insurance, awards, scholarships, work load and more.  We’d like to have meetings scheduled in November.  If you are unsure who your MGEC Contact Representative is, please email Cammie.lavalle@mgec.org and she will let you know.

 

2011 Shutdown Arbitration Progress:

This is a big priority area for MGEC.  Hearings continue October 3-4 with additional dates set for the October 24-25.  MGEC has presented most of the argument as it pertains to recovering lost wages and benefits which the majority of MGEC members who were locked out from work July 1-20, 2011. We hope to have a conclusion to this process by end of the year.

 

President Kotzenmacher has opened nominations for the following positions:

VP, Treasurer and Director (4). Terms are for two years starting January 1, 2014 with the exception being the position that begins as VP since that position progresses through three positions (i.e. this position starts year 1 as VP, then become President for 1 year, and finally holds the post of Past President for one year). All members are welcome and encouraged to nominate themselves for any open position by sending an e-mail indicating their interest to mgec@mgec.org or calling 651-774-0996.  The MGEC Board meets the fourth Monday of each month from 3:30 p.m. to 6: 30 p.m.  The current slate of candidates is as follows:

     Vice President

1)   Mohammad Dehdashti, MnDOT, Roseville

2)    

 

     Treasurer

1)   Linda Heath, MnDOT, St. Paul

2)    

 

     Directors (4 positions)

1)   Steve Kordosky, MnDOT, Mendota Heights

2)   Julie Groetsch, MnDOT, Rochester

3)   Jeff Cremin, DPS, St. Paul

4)    

Nominations will be open through 4:30 p.m. October 15, 2013. The election will be held in November and those elected take office January 1, 2014.

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September 13, 2013

 

MGEC would like to introduce our members to MAPD!

MAPD is a registered non-profit organization with the IRS and the Minnesota Secretary of State.  It's mission focus is on the support

of the education and professional development of technical professionals.  Membership fees are $225 per fiscal year.

Benefits of joining MAPD include, but are not limited to:

    - Career Development Scholarship

    - Educational Conference Support

    - Professional Licensure Reimbursement

    - Professional Organization Support

    - Networking Opportunities

    - Free Continuing Education

    - Free Professional Engineer Review Class

    - Public policy education and civil engagement

    - To learn more about MAPD, please visit www.mapd.us or email Dana@MAPD.us.

 

MAPD (Minnesota Association for Professional Development) continues to grow and provide its members with professional development funds.  2013 membership opportunities are available and 2013 membership now due.  MnDOT has joined the ranks for state agencies agreeing to reimburse employees for MAPD annual membership professional dues.  Join MAPD today at www.mapd.us   

Become eligible for funds for scholarships, workshops, licensure fees, and membership in other organizations.

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September 9, 2013

MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - NEWS RELEASE

MnDOT named finalist for national transportation award
Highway 169/Interstate 494 reconstruction project vies in “under budget” category


ST. PAUL, Minn. — The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have named the Minnesota Department of Transportation one of 10 finalists of the “America’s Transportation Award” for the recently completed Highway 169/Interstate 494 reconstruction project in Bloomington, Edina and Eden Prairie.

The $128 million project, which was completed under budget, increases traffic flow and improves safety for all drivers. Using the “Context Sensitive Solutions/Flexible Design” approach in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, MnDOT made design changes that addressed more than 90 percent of the need and saved approximately $30 million in construction costs.

In 2013, 24 states entered 36 projects in the competition in the “Ahead of Schedule,” “Under Budget,” and “Best Use of Innovation” categories. The 10 finalists received the highest number of overall points during four regional contests, representing each part of the country.

A grand prize will be awarded by a panel of judges, and a People’s Choice Award will be decided by an online popular vote by the public. Winners of both the grand prize and the People’s Choice Award will receive $10,000 each, to be donated to a charity or scholarship of the winner’s choice.

The two awards will be presented Oct. 20 at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Denver.

Visit http://americastransportationawards.org/ to learn more about the project and the AASHTO America’s Transportation Award competition and to cast a vote.

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August 21, 2013

2013-2015 Contract Negotiations:

Dates set for bargaining the contract are September 16, 18 and 20.  Historically you can expect bargaining will include terms provided in other agreements (see below).  Having recently completed a compensation survey, MGEC hopes to address pay equity issues unique to MGEC.  While there are no guarantees MGEC will reach the same agreement for the contract and insurances as others do, it’s useful to know some of those terms.  They include the following:

3% increases to the pay scales effective July 1 of each year and progression steps continued each year until the employee reached the pay scale top.

Those agreements also increased the meal allowances by a couple dollars (breakfast/lunch) and a dollar (dinner); greater meal increases for listed major metropolitan cities outside of Minnesota. 

The maximum dental coverage increases from $1,000 to $1,500.

The addition of On-line clinics and the expansion of the Diabetes Management Program to include adult children and spouses of SEGIP members. 

A new term pertaining to health insurance is that every employee will be required to pay 5% of the employee portion of the health insurance premium.  Married state workers could drop coverage for one and be picked up as a dependent. That means, beginning January 1, 2014, even employees with dependent coverage will have to pay 5% of the “employee only” portion of the premium.  Health insurance premiums for employees with at least one dependent are calculated as follows: Employee Only Premium + Dependent Premium = Total Premium

 

Compensation Study:

The results of the 2013 Compensation study of classes MGEC represents as compared to similar jobs for other private and public sector employers should be finalized and available to members by September.

 

2011 Shutdown Arbitration Progress:

This is a big priority area for MGEC.  Sure it’s past, but the loss of income remains something members talk about when we meet with them.  It wasn’t right and shouldn’t happen again.  The contract should be honored by the employer and we’re working to make it so.  So when you wonder why MGEC is still working on this two years later, that’s why.  Hearings continue October 3-4 with additional dates set for the 24-25.  MGEC has presented most of the argument as it pertains to recovering lost wages and benefits which the majority of MGEC members who were locked out from work July 1-20, 2011.  Three individual grievances related to the shutdown have been resolved. The State begins presentation of their witnesses in the next phase of hearings.  We hope to have a conclusion to this process by end of the year.

 

Early Retirement Changes to MSRS:

The MSRS Board has made changes to the benefits taken by those taking an “early retirement”.  As of July of 2014 this reduced benefit amount will be lower than it was under the previous formula. Full retirement benefits are unchanged for persons retiring at or after age 66 (or age 65 if hired before July 1, 1989). To learn more, review this FAQ.

 

Labor-Management Opening:

MGEC is opening up to membership an opportunity to be on a Labor Management Committee that focuses on insurance related issues over the coming years.  This person should be in close contact with MGEC membership, the Board and able to participate over a period of a few years.  If interested email mgec@mgec.org.

 

 The Unsession – A message from Governor Dayton

“To my fellow Public Employees:

 I chose a career in government, because I believe in public service. To me, government is a place of tremendous opportunity to serve the public good. I thank you for your hard work every day. You make an important difference to Minnesotans throughout our state.

 Your dedication has brought many recent improvements in our services to our fellow citizens. Some of you have reduced the waiting times for vehicle registrations from 90 days to just 10 days. Wow! Others of you have cut environmental permit waits by over 40 percent. Still others have made hunting and fishing licenses available on smartphones. All across state government, you have found new efficiencies, reduced paperwork, and saved taxpayers time and money.

 We have made good progress; but we’re not done. In fact, we’re just getting started!

 That is why I have proposed making the 2014 Legislative Session the “Unsession.” It will focus on eliminating excessive or redundant laws, rules, and regulations; and getting rid of anything else that makes government nearly impossible for people (including you!) to understand.

 My request of you is simple: send me your Unsession suggestion.

 Send a big idea that could revolutionize how your department operates or a commonsense change that would eliminate a headache for the Minnesotans you serve.

 I have a quotation on my office wall, which I first learned from Governor Rudy Perpich. It says, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” I invite you to join with all of us in building an even better state government to better serve the people of Minnesota.

 Please click this this link to send me your idea.”

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July 11, 2013

At a gathering of the Minnesota Public Works Association a few years ago, former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer told the group that "Politicians trust engineers. Engineers don't make things up. When politicians and engineers work together, useful things happen."

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June 19th, 2013

President Kotzenmacher has opened nominations for the following positions: VP, Treasurer and Director (3). Terms are for two years starting January 1, 2014 (VP is 1 year VP, 1 year President, 1 year Past President). All members are welcome and encouraged to nominate themselves for any open position by sending an e-mail indicating their interest to mgec@mgec.org or calling 651-774-0996.  The MGEC Board meets the fourth Monday of each month from 3:30 p.m. to 6: 30 p.m.  Process: nominations will be open through October 15, 2013. The election will be held in November and those elected take office January 1, 2014.

 

2013-2015 Insurance Bargaining is underway – MGEC and the coalition of bargaining units met two days with the State of Minnesota regarding insurances for 2014 & 2015.  The State is seeking state employees to pay 8% of the premium for employee only health insurance (a cost of $42 at today’s premiums) and 23% (currently at 15%) of dependent premiums (a cost of $195). They also want to increase employee out of pocket costs.  Some of the things the employee coalition is seeking include: improved coverage for dental; expansion of the diabetes project improving coverage and treatment; health improvement incentives (money for weight loss programs, health club membership, other activities that would improve a person’s health); improved benefits related to vision; and ending the provider copay and charge double dipping for preventative measures.

 

2011 Shutdown Arbitration Progress This week there will be two days of hearings on the main issue – the effort to recover lost wages and benefits for the majority of MGEC members who were locked out from working July 1-20, 2011 continues.  There will be many more days hearings over the coming months.  So far there has been a positive outcome for grievances for three individuals related to the shutdown that have been resolved by the State concurring with the remedy sought by MGEC.  One employee will be compensated for the days he was not allowed to work. Another employee will be paid for all the time he worked upon return from shutdown. The third employee being compensated for eight hours of vacation pay taken just after recall from the shutdown.

 

MGEC Legislative Effort related to Compensation MGEC drafted legislation to improve compensation levels for those in positions working in engineering fields.  MGEC Legislative Committee Chair Bruce Tanquist deserves credit for spearing heading an effort to eliminate the salary cap from holding wages back from matching those of the private sector and federal government for those in engineering.  This is an important issue.  The first steps are the abolished “agency head salary limit” and mandate for a total compensation study for managerial positions.  Politically speaking, only when manager’s positions rise to competitive levels will the wages of those below them also rise.  Currently there is a compression of wages between engineering classifications and the managers. Thank you to Bruce, John, Mohammad, Jerry, and Blake for your efforts in successfully moving this issue along!  Also passed: 1) whistleblower protection for employees communicating with legislators, and 2) expansion of the statutory bases for employee use of sick leave.

 

Do you have prior public service (including military) before becoming a state employee?  If so, under terms of the new contract, you can get credit for that service for purposes of how much vacation time you get.  It’s up to you to contact your human resources department to initiate a request for credit for prior public service. You need to contact HR to initiate the process and timeline for getting additional service time credited for purposes of vacation leave.

2011-2013 MGEC Contract, Article 8, Sec. 2. (Vacation Leave, Allowances) Adding the following language: “An eligible employee may, at any time, request that prior public sector or United States Armed Forces length of service be credited for purposes of vacation accrual. To be eligible, the employee must be appointed to State service in this bargaining unit within four (4) years of separation from the other public sector or United States Armed Forces employer. Changes in the accrual rate will commence effective at the beginning of the next payroll period following the Appointing Authority’s approval of the adjusted rate, and is not retroactive.”

Sick leave can now be used to care for sick or ill foster children (including wards and children from whom the employee is the legal guardian).

 

Vacation CapDo you need to get your vacation hours under the cap

Will you have trouble doing that because of your work load?  If so, consider having your employer make an agreement with MGEC to allow you additional time to get below the cap for FY2013.  MGEC routinely does a handful of these agreements each year.

MGEC Contract, Article 8, Vacation Leave, Section 2, “Vacation leave may be accumulated to any amount provided that once during each fiscal year, each employee’s accumulation must be reduced to two hundred seventy five (275) hours or less.  This must be accomplished on or before the last day of the fiscal year.  If not, it shall automatically be reduced to two hundred seventy five (275) hours at the end of the last payroll period in the fiscal year.”

Vacation Donation an option.  Use it, don’t lose it.  There are several employees in the MGEC unit who are available recipients for the vacation donation program.  The list of Vacation Donation recipients are listed by name and their state agency at: http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/donate. You can click on any name in the list, and it will open the recipient’s flyer.  The flyer indicates the employee’s job title.  The job title should help you determine who is in MGEC.  Your donation will help someone else.

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MAPD (Minnesota Association for Professional Development) continues to grow and provide its members with professional development funds.  2013 membership opportunities are available and 2013 membership now due.  MnDOT has joined the ranks for state agencies agreeing to reimburse employees for MAPD annual membership professional dues.  Join MAPD today at www.mapd.us.  Look for the October leadership conference event.  Become eligible for funds for scholarships, workshops, licensure fees, and membership in other organizations.

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May 28th, 2013

2011-2013 Contract signed by Governor:

Expect pay increase and back pay on the June 14 check.

 

New contract provision in effect:

Do you have prior public service (including military) before becoming a state employee?  If so, under terms of the new contract, you can get credit for that service for purposes of how much vacation time you get.  It’s up to you to contact your human resources department to initiate a request for credit for prior public service. You need to contact HR to initiate the process and timeline for getting additional service time credited for purposes of vacation leave.

 2011-2013 MGEC Contract, Article 8, Sec. 2. (Vacation Leave, Allowances) Adding the following language: “An eligible employee may, at any time, request that prior public sector or United States Armed Forces length of service be credited for purposes of vacation accrual. To be eligible, the employee must be appointed to State service in this bargaining unit within four (4) years of separation from the other public sector or United States Armed Forces employer. Changes in the accrual rate will commence effective at the beginning of the next payroll period following the Appointing Authority’s approval of the adjusted rate, and is not retroactive.”

Sick leave can now be used to care for sick or ill foster children (including wards and children from whom the employee is the legal guardian).

 Link to proposed contract changes that have now been approved by MGEC, Legislature and the Governor and are in effect. http://www.mgec.org/pdfs/2011-2013%20Proposed%20MGEC%20Contract%20Changes%20Summary.pdf

MGEC Board appoints Kenneth Hansen as Director to fill the vacancy

Ken Hansen is a Graduate II Engineer working for MnDOT’s Office of Traffic, Safety, and Technology in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Unit. He has been working in that position since February 2011 and at MnDOT since January 2009. Ken received his bachelors of civil engineering degree from the University of Minnesota in 2008. Ken writes, “I am grateful for being nominated as a MGEC Board Director. This is a great opportunity to represent my peers in decision making and steering priorities.

Early retirement bill does not make it through the legislature:

MGEC will join forces with other bargaining units to promote an early retirement bill when the legislature resumes in January of 2014. 

 

Vacation CapDo you need to get your vacation hours under the cap

Will you have trouble doing that because of your work load?  If so, consider having your employer make an agreement with MGEC to allow you additional time to get below the cap for FY2013.  MGEC routinely does a handful of these agreements each year.

MGEC Contract, Article 8, Vacation Leave, Section 2, “Vacation leave may be accumulated to any amount provided that once during each fiscal year, each employee’s accumulation must be reduced to two hundred seventy five (275) hours or less.  This must be accomplished on or before the last day of the fiscal year.  If not, it shall automatically be reduced to two hundred seventy five (275) hours at the end of the last payroll period in the fiscal year.”

 

Insurance Changes Effective April 1, 2013:

With the new contract ratified by membership, changes to health insurance will take place April 1.  Employees may switch clinics within their provider network (Health Partners, Blue Cross Blue Shield or Preferred One) if they want to move to a lower cost clinic.  Expenses paid by the employee since January 1, 2013 will continue to count toward the new plan deductibles for 2013. If an employee switches to a lower cost clinic before April 1 they can avoid paying the new higher deductibles of higher cost level clinics.

2013-2015 Insurance Bargaining:

March 4th MGEC joined the other state bargaining units in discussions about contract proposals related to insurances for the next contract.  Such proposals could take effect January 1, 2014.  Your input is welcome.  As in the past, many members have already provided input using the 2013 MGEC membership Survey, or having contacted MGEC separately.  Please pass any suggestions or questions along to Dana.Wheeler@mgec.org.

Did You Know – You may need to stop paying premiums when the coverage for Children/Grandchildren Life Insurance or employee or spousal Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage stops.  Some employees sign up for optional child life insurance, their children/grandchildren.  The child is covered through age 24 (MGEC Contract, Article 18, Section 7B).  Other employees sign up for Accidental Death & Dismemberment (MGEC Contract, Article 18, Section 7D) coverage which ends at age 70.  In both cases, coverage ends at the max age but we are hearing that the insurance company may continue collecting premiums unless you stop them.

 

MGEC 2011-2013 Contract Tentative Agreement:

Vacation - allow prior public sector or US armed forces length of service credit for purposes of vacation accrual if appointed to state service within four years of separation from other public employer.

Sick Leave - allow sick leave use for care of foster children.  Allow up to five days sick leave use to arrange for necessary nursing or hospice care for members of the family including parents not living in the employee’s household.

Wages - Across The Board Wage increases of 2% on 1/2/2013; Steps both years for those not at the top of the pay scale; change severance payout from one year to within six months.  Complete 2013 Salary survey before making insurance changes.  Do a follow up salary survey before 4/15/16.

Professional Organization Membership Fees – increase the amount an employee may be reimbursed from $155/$225 to $200/$250 and resolve the grievance filed based on this language.

Insurances - changes to co-pays (same as other bargaining units) with details available by contacting mgec@mgec.org or as outlined when ballots are sent out.

 

Deferred Compensation Match:

The State will match the employee’s first $300 contribution to their Deferred Compensation Plan (MGEC contract, Article 17, Section 13).  Sign up for the plan to get your $300 match.

 

Know Your Contractual Rights

 

Caring for a parent:

As employees start down the path of caring for a parent, they often feel they need to start from scratch. The state does provide some benefits to caregivers. For example, you and your dependents all have free access to LifeMatters, your employee assistance program. You also have the ability to use sick leave to care for a parent who is living in the same household, or to arrange for nursing care.

 

Representation - Article 14, Section 3, Council Representation

The Agency shall not meet with an employee for the purpose of questioning the employee during an investigation that may lead to disciplinary action without first offering the employee an opportunity for Council representation.  Any employee waiving the right to such representation must do so in writing prior to the questioning.  A copy of such waiver shall be furnished to the Council.  The employee shall be advised of the principal allegations being investigated and, if known, the alleged time and place of the occurrence prior to questioning.

 

Volunteer Opportunities:

There are continuing opportunities for engineers to volunteer their time, both in supporting their fellow engineers and also in helping develop interest in engineering among our youth. Please check out the MFEST website for information about the various programs that are available and really want our support. http://www.mfests.org/

 

Lost Money:

Sometimes Minnesotans lose financial property because of a change of address, death, or forgetfulness. What happens to these forgotten funds? The Commerce Department is responsible for holding unclaimed property until the rightful owner or heir is found.  To see if you have a claim go to: http://mn.gov/commerce/topics/Unclaimed-Property/

Health Facts:

Over the past 30 years, Americans have doubled the amount of soda and other sugary beverages they consume to an all-time high of 7 percent of daily calories. (That amounts to about 40 gallons of sugary drinks in a year.) Sugary beverages are now the single biggest source of calories in Americans’ diets and the largest source of added sugar in the United States.  Soda and other sugary drinks are also the only food or beverage that has been directly linked to obesity. In fact, 20 percent of the weight increase in the United States between 1977 and 2007 is estimated to be due to sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the Institute of Medicine.

    Sign up for a free Food@Work assessment (for worksites physically located in Hennepin County) to find ways to help your employees eat and drink healthier while at work. Contact Maia Seitz, Hennepin County Public Health, at 612-348-7045 or <maia.seitz@co.hennepin.mn.us>.

 

Sleep problems and depression - Chicken or egg?

A pattern of inadequate sleep can put people at risk of depression.  Conversely, depression can cause inadequate sleep.  Depression-related sleep problems include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and difficulty feeling refreshed from sleep (or oversleeping). Obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome also have been linked to depression.  This month brief, private, online screenings for depression are featured on SEGIP health plan and LifeMatters EAP websites. Go to http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/oct-dep-learn for links to depression information and screening tools. The sooner it is addressed, the quicker the recovery from depression.

 

Professional Membership Reimbursement:

 

MGEC filed a class action grievance over the inconsistent denial of reimbursement of professional organization membership fees.  Some employees were appropriately reimbursed this fee.  In MnDOT most employees were not.  The next step for the grievance is arbitration.  If you requested your $225 professional membership fee be reimbursed and were denied, you may consider asking the employer to reimburse $155 of that fee. MGEC will make that argument in arbitration because the MGEC contract states, “In each fiscal year, the Agency shall reimburse employees in the bargaining unit for membership dues paid to professional organizations related to the employee’s job up to a maximum of $155 each fiscal year.  At the discretion of the Agency up to $225 may be reimbursed each fiscal year” (MGEC Contract, Article 19, Section 10, Membership(s) in Professional Organizations).  Please keep MGEC informed of the status of your reimbursement request.

 

2011 Shutdown Grievances Proceed to Arbitration:

MGEC filed a class action grievance and additional individual grievances related to events of the 2011 shutdown.  We believe the shutdown was a violation of the contract and so the grievance is proceeding to arbitration.  Compensation for lost time and benefits will be sought for anyone who was not allowed to work during the shutdown.

 

MGEC Reaches Settlement with the Department of Public Safety on multiple Grievances:

MGEC filed a class action grievance and an individual grievance pertaining to hours of work, over time, Office of Pipeline Safety policies and other issues.  After a thorough investigation and working closely with DPS management, compromise solutions were found that met the interests of the parties.

 

Improving Your Health:

Nearly 70% of eligible employees qualified for the reduced office visit copay in 2012 and benefit eligible employees who have not taken the assessment can still do so.   More good news...employees are finding that partnering with a personal health coach is an asset to their well-being.  Coaches are experienced registered dietitians, health educators, exercise specialists and pharmacists, all with behavior change expertise. This year round experience helps employees find ways to move more, eat well, stop smoking, sleep better and feel great.

After completing the health assessment, employees can join any JourneyWell wellness program throughout the year - at no cost!

Employees can sign up for phone based health coaching by calling JourneyWell at 952-967-5128 (metro area), 1-866-977-5128 (outside the Twin Cities metro area) or toll-free TTY line at 1-877-222-2794. To register for an online program go to http://www.journeywell.com/SEGIP

 

Safety Equipment:

MGEC filed a class action grievance pertaining to an employer policy limiting reimbursement for safety boots to $100 ever two years.  This is a violation of the MGEC Contract which states the following: “Article 16 – Job Safety.  Section 1. General. It shall be the policy of the Agency to provide for the safety of its employees by providing safe working conditions, safe work areas, and safe work methods.  The employees shall have the responsibility to use all provided safety equipment and procedures in their daily work and shall cooperate in all safety and accident prevention programs.”  “Section 2, Employees Safety. B. Any protective equipment or clothing shall be provided and maintained by the Agency whenever such equipment is required as a condition of employment either by the Agency, by OSHA, or by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.”  The State has denied full reimbursement based on a policy they created outside of negotiations with MGEC.  The policy, based on Minnesota Statutes 182.655 subd. 10a requires employers to pay for all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety shoes. However, the employer is only responsible for paying the minimum cost of a safety shoe that provides the necessary protection. If an employee wants a more expensive pair of shoes or boots, the employer has the option to either pay the full amount or require the employee pay the difference.  The contract language takes priority over the MMB policy and the law does not limit such contract language from a higher standard (i.e. providing for protective clothing without dollar limitation.)  It is fair for the employer to direct employees not to purchase boots that are more expensive than needed.    However, they must also recognize that there will be many situations where the features required, either due to job related needs or employee fit needs will cost more than $100.  In such situations, it is incumbent on the employee to point that out to the supervisor before purchasing needed equipment and again when expensing the purchase.  In order to resolve this grievance, MGEC will survey members about their last purchase of safety boots and employer reimbursement.  Your response will be appreciated and help MGEC to enforce your contract rights.

 

Professional Membership Reimbursement:

MGEC filed a class action grievance over the inconsistent denial of reimbursement of professional organization membership fees.  A new organization providing professional development benefits to members in the technical professions was recently developed to offer several new benefits to its members.  For more information on these benefits, go to www.mapd.us.  Hopefully, this matter will be settled soon and those employees who joined MAPD as well as those waiting to do so will be reimbursed their due.