April 27 2016

Ethics Webinar

The Ethics seminar will be offered again:

May 24                 12:00 – 2:00 pm

June 10                 10 am - noon

RSVP to Cammie@mapd.us

More details on links will be provided to registrants and can be found at the MAPD website.

March 30, 2016

Interest Arbitration

The States leaves MGEC little choice but to take their overdue contract to arbitration in order to improve upon wages which well behind the marketplace for most engineering jobs. Interest arbitration dates are set for June 2-3, 2016. The decision is expected in August. Outside of bargaining, MGEC repeatedly hears from state managers and hiring engineers that they are having a hard time hiring engineers to work for the State. With retirements looming, new engineers leaving for better paying jobs elsewhere and difficulty hiring, MGEC is concerned that the State will continue to lose valuable experience, contract out at hire costs and not fill positions needed to manage, inspect and direct the work of others. Conflicting statements are made by MMB in bargaining the when the State claims they have no problem hiring and that comparing wages to other employers is not required unless turnover reaches unusually high levels. In contrast to the State position, State law says:

(b) Compensation for state positions bears reasonable relationship to compensation for similar positions outside state service; Minnesota Statute 43A.18 Sub. 8. Compensation relationships of positions, (b)

 

Today the media relays a discussion suggesting House Republicans may not support state employee contracts. MGEC's contract is not before the legislature yet, but we encourage those thinking state employees are overpaid to review the compensation study (done jointly by the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Government Engineering Council) results posted for the 2013 survey. The disparity of comparable compensation has grown larger since the study was last done in 2008. MGEC encourages the legislature to study the facts before playing politics again with state employees. We are more cost efficient, transparent (not required of private sector employers) and thanks to the union membership, strive keep the state functioning and accountable. Without bargaining units (unions) like MGEC, the voice of line staff and supervisors, those designing and working the projects, would be lost and efficiencies not addressed. The proposals discussed in the article distract from the real issue is silencing the voice of state employees.

"These are public servants," said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. "These are people that do the public's business. They shouldn't be scapegoated just because that's the career that they're in."

Compensation Study

MGEC met with the State of Minnesota this week to revise the 2013 compensation survey and send out the  2016 Compensation Study. Definitions of job classifications have been modified to better reflect the nature of the work, authority, responsibility and qualifications of each position. MGEC is making the study a topic of discussion with the administration and legislators. This work will continue through the session to educate participants for greater steps towards fair pay for the State's engineering classifications. If the Governor thought pay equity was good for the Commissioners he should think the same for his engineering staff.

 

National News pertaining to Unions in CNN article

Unions or "bargaining units" as know in MN law for state employees, must represent all employees in the jobs they represent. An employee may choose not to join the union but that employee still benefits from the terms and conditions negotiated for them. The still have representation by MGEC staff when needed. They still have opportunity to have their positions hears and engage in discussion or work groups through the meet and confer process with management through the work of the union. They still have the benefits negotiated in special cases (i.e. government shutdowns, layoffs, reassignments, transfers and so on) that would otherwise be lost. Fr these benefits, those not becoming a union member pay a "fair share fee" of up to 85% of union dues. Thus the long standing practice upheld by lower courts stands.

MGEC Golf Tournament & Annual Meeting
Reserve the date of September 7, 2016 for your opportunity to agolf and attend the MGEC Annual meeting. Golf registration is being taken care of by Oak Marsh Golf Course. Here is the link. Watch for when they open registration at http://www.wpgolf.com/oakmarsh/upcomingevents.aspx.

 

December 23, 2015

MGEC Membership voted strongly to reject the state's last best offer for a 2015-2017 Contract and go to interest arbitration. In bargaining the primary focus for MGEC has been to get compensation that aligns with market based compensation paid by other employers for the same or similar work.  The 2008 and 2013 compensation studies (click on Compensation Study link above), conducted jointly by MGEC and the State show that the state continually fails to pay their licensed and senior experienced employees competitively. The 2008 survey found benefits (insurances) were largely similar between employer's surveyed. So newer engineers, who gain valuable training early in their state employment, are left to looking outside state employment for compensation commensurate with the market rate. More senior engineers, many approaching retirement are also soon leaving with valuable institutional knowledge. The loss of experience and expertise is a loss for the state and all those other companies, cities and counties that rely on the state engineering staff to consult with when certain expertise is needed. We've been told by other engineering firms and organizations that they recognize the problem and support increasing state wages to a competitive level. Its clear that the state can't hire more experienced engineers to fill the vacancies due to it's compensation rate.  But the state continues to disavow the problem. Consequently, the next step will be the parties meeting with the Bureau of Mediation Services to "certify" what issues will be arbitrated. The soonest the arbitration  will take place is likely a date in late winter or spring.

 

December 3, 2015

The MGEC Executive Board sent the State's Last Best Final offer out to the membership for a vote today through December 14, 2015.  Previously the membership approved MGEC signing a Memorandum of Agreement accepting the state's offer pertaining to health and dental insurance. The new coverage takes effect January 1, 2015. The dental coverage raised the annual maximum benefit to $1,500 in 2014 and raises the dental insurance payment for a procedure from 60% to 80% saving the employee or dependent 20% of the cost of the procedure starting in January.

Election of new board members has been completed.

Welcome your new board members!

Vice President: Julie Groetsch (MnDOT)

Treasurer: Linda Heath (MnDOT)

Directors: Jeff Cremin (DPS), Cindy Dittberner (MnDOT), Derrick Dasenbrock (MnDOT) and Blake Nelson (MnDOT)

Thank you to outgoing members who served with distinction! Lisa Mojsiej (MPCA), Bruce Johnson (MnDOT)

 

November 20th, 2015

MGEC and MAPD announce the next Professional Ethics Seminar

This seminar meets the professional licensure requirement for 2 hours continuing education in Ethics.

Monday, December 7, 2015 at the Hiway Federal Credit Union Conference Room. Noon - 2:00 p.m.

Cost (includes lunch)

$0 MAPD Members

$15 MGEC Full & Associate

$50 MGEC Fairshare

$75 Non-Member

 

Join MAPD (Minnesota Association for Professional Development) to get this seminar for free. Your MAPD membership can be reimbursed by your employer.

Location: Hiway Federal Credit Union, 840 Westminster Street, St. Paul, MN  55130 

RSVP by email to: Cammie@mapd.us

 

 

November 10, 2015

MGEC met with the State of Minnesota and Mediator Vanelli for a long day November 9, 2015.  The day began with MGEC providing a package proposal that accepted the State's remaining proposals, added to a vacation proposal and offered the state a choice for options to resolve  one additional pay equity item. In the afternoon, the State responded by providing their "Last Best Final Offer revised" (i.e. "the pattern") and withdrew the tentative agreements reached before that.  About an hour later, the mediator informed MGEC that the State proposed an MOU pertaining to Wages, Insurance and terms pertaining to contract duration. MGEC agreed to the State's MOU proposal and also made suggestions for two other matters that would benefit the State. Subsequently, the state withdrew their  offer for an MOU. Consequently, there are no new agreements in place and the current contract language continue to be in effect. The MGEC Board will review the State's last offer and decide what step to take next. Meanwhile, we hope the State will reconsider an agreement in coming days/weeks that would include the tentative agreements reached and the state's last offer for an MOU. (An MOU is a Memorandum of Understanding which is an agreement reached that supplements the contract. An MOU is often used while a contract is in effect or to resolve limited issues while bargaining is taking place.   MGEC members will receive a more through update on bargaining by their e-mail.

 

October 27, 2015

Contract Bargaining Continues

MGEC currently is in contract bargaining for the 2015-2017 Contract. We fully believe that MGEC will have the same insurance plan as all the other state employee groups. The State's last offer is similar to offers made to other bargaining groups. The MGEC Executive Board will consider the details of that offer at their meeting, Wednesday, October 28, 2015 3:30 p.m. at the MGEC office (members are always welcome). Additional bargaining dates remain on the calendar in November and December to address yet unresolved issues.

For your Open Enrolment and planning purposes, here is a link to that Insurance Plan Design: http://mn.gov/mmb/images/2016-schedule-of-benefits.pdf

Open Enrollment starts today and runs through November 9, 2015. Take care of business today rather than wait until the last days. If a problem occurs, there is time now to take care of it. By now you should have received your copy of The SEGIP Report at you home via US Mail. For assistance contact the Open Enrollment Service Center Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 651-355-0100 or 1-800-664-3597

Your Open Enrollment opportunities and resources are available on the SEGIP subsite located:

mn.gov/mmb/segip/open-enrollment/

 

Check Primary Care Clinic, as cost levels can change each year. If you will retain your current medical carrier (BlueCross, HealthPartners or PreferredOne) you can change clinics by calling the customer service number on the back of the card (do not submit a clinic change on Employee Self-Service). The link to the Primary Care Clinic directory:

mn.gov/insdir/provider_directory_openenrollment.aspx

 

What’s Open This Year:

 

Get more information at http://mn.gov/mmb/segip

Take your Health Assessment with your last selection being to accept health coaching and save $5.00 on co-pays all year long. http://mn.gov/mmb/segip/open-enrollment/advantagehp.jsp or SEGIP.StayWell.com

 

Do you and your spouse both work for the State of Minnesota? Are you considering retirement?  Are you interested in one of the SEGIP Advantage Health Insurance pilot projects? Your answer to these questions might affect if you and your spouse each take "single" (i.e. employee only) coverage or if one of you becomes a dependent on the others "Dependent" (i.e. family coverage). Consult SEGIP for clarification on what potential issues you face depending on your choice of single coverage or dependent coverage for both employees.

A note from Minnesota Management & Budget about undocumented flexible spending account transactions from Julie Sonier, Director, Employee Insurance Division dated October 13, 2015

"Pretax participants with unsubstantiated debit card transactions that occurred in 2014 for amounts less than $25 against the 2014 Medical/Dental Expense Account (MDEA) or 2014 MN SCU HRA or prior years' Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) will see an additional to taxable income on either their December 11 or December 24, 2015, paystubs. This amount is taxable and most employees in this situation will see a slight change in their net pay. In total, approximately 650 employees will be affected."

 

"Outstanding unsubstantiated debit card transactions that occurred in either 2010 or 2011 will become taxable income for 2015. Because these transactions are approaching their Statute of Limitations for satisfaction, these amounts will be included as taxable income for 2015 and will appear on the 2015 W-2. Affected employees will receive a letter explaining this in the near future. In total, approximately 1,250 employees will be affected."

 

October 3, 2015

MGEC Election Candidates

MGEC members will receive their MGEC Executive Board ballots on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.  The current slate is as follows:

Vice President

Julie Groetsch; Principal Land Surveyor in MnDOT, Land Management, Central Office;  St. Paul, Currently a Director

Treasurer

Linda Heath; Principal Engineer in MnDOT, Metro Electrical Services at Fort Snelling; MGEC President-2011, Incumbent

Director (4 positions)

Director A

Terry Beaudry;

Derrick Dasenbrock;

Director B

Blake Nelson; PE; Principal Engineer in MnDOT, Office of Materials & Road Research, Maplewood; MGEC President 2014

Hafiz Munir; PE, Principal Engineer in MnDOT, Research, Central Office

Victor Vasas, PE, Principal Engineer in MnDOT, Design, Metro District, Roseville

Director C (must be non-MnDOT by By-Law)

Jeff Cremin; PE, Principal Engineer in DPS, St. Paul, Incumbent

Director D

Rod Koehn; PE, Senior Engineer in MnDOT, Design, Metro District, Roseville

Cindy Dittberner, Engineering Specialist in MnDOT, Traffic, Bemidji

 

September 4, 2015

Survey - MGEC "full members" should be receiving by e-mail the 2015 Bargaining Survey. This short survey will set priorities for contract bargaining in October. If the survey doesn't get to you, contact Dana at 651-774-0996 or Dana.Wheeler@mgec.org for a copy. If you are not a full member, join today by clicking on the "Join" button above.

Annual Meeting & Golf Event A Success - Both were at the Oak Marsh Golf Course, September 2, 2015. BIG THANKS to golf sponsors WSB & Associates, Inc., Stonebrook, Engineering Responsible Solutions, MAPD - Minnesota Association for Professional Development, KLJ at kljeng.com, Braun Intertec, The Science You Build On and Hiway Federal Credit Union. Their sponsorship and participation make the event fun! Nominations for the 2015 MGEC elections remain open (details below). President Mohammad Dehdashti thanked current and past MGEC Executive Board members for their contributions to MGEC and current MGEC staff for all the work they do to accomplish many directions set by the Board. MGEC has 1,053 members with 56 being Associate members (prior MGEC members promoted out of the bargaining unit who choose to continue their MGEC affiliation) 77 fair share and 13 members on a Leave of Absence. Seventy-eight percent of the membership work for MnDOT. The Annual meeting approved of the 2014 Annual Meeting minutes and an FY2016 Budget.

Congratulations to MGEC Golden Slide Rule Award recipient Tim Donovan recognized for his his technical skill and public service contributions.  Tim prepares roadway design layouts for MnDOT’s Metro District.  His creativity, skill and broad knowledge of roadway design allow many of MnDOT’s projects to be built with higher quality and lower costs than might occur otherwise.  This serves the public in achieving the maximum reduction in congestion and crashes, and minimizing costs and impacts of projects so that resources can be put towards furthering MnDOT’s Mission.

MGEC Family Member Scholarships were awarded to Eben Rohling, a senior at the University of North Dakota in Mechanical Engineering. Eben is daughter of Kevin Rohling. A second scholarship was awarded to Nicole Sannes, daughter of Nancy Sannes. Nicole is a senior at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, in Chemical Engineering.

Thank  You to MGEC Instructors who teach the PE Review Class twice a year helping people prepare to successfully obtain their Professional Engineer license. Instructors include: Joe Black, Nick Haltvick, Joe Nietfeld, Blake Nelson, Rich Lamb, Katrinia Kessler, Corey Mathisen, Randy Thorson, Bill Priebe, Dave Sahli, Petra DeWall, Nicole Danielson-Bartelt, Solomon Woldemlak, David Hedeedn, Christopher Bower, Julie Whitcher and Dave Leuer. They make a difference!

August 31, 2015

Golf/Annual - there is still time to sign up today for the MGEC Golf Event and Annual Meeting. Sign up at http://www.wpgolf.com/oakmarsh/mgec.aspx Arrival for golf from 11:00 - 11:45 a.m. with noon shotgun start.

Bargaining - MGEC bargains the new contract (2015-2017) in late September and October. Upon completion, compensation should be retroactive to 7-1-2015. A survey will be sent to members shortly. We've been collecting ideas for the contract since the last contract but feel free to e-mail new ideas to Dana.Wheeler@mgec.org.

 

July 9, 2015

MGEC Meetings – Worksite meetings are taking place to discuss upcoming bargaining as well as other work events effecting employees and other opportunities.  RSVP to the contacts listed below or contact MGEC at 651-774-0996 to set up a lunch meeting at your worksite.

The MGEC golf outing will be at Oak Marsh Golf Club on September 2, 2015. A registration link will follow shortly. The MGEC annual meeting and dinner will follow starting at 5:30 p.m.  If you are not golfing, but want to attend the dinner and annual meeting also register with Oak Marsh by calling 651-730-8886 select option 3.

 

Ethics Training - MGEC is working with the Minnesota Association for Professional Development (MAPD) to provide two hour seminars on "professional ethics," a requirement for continuing education for the Professional Engineer's license.  Contact Cammie to sign up for an upcoming event and check the MGEC calendar for dates. We're open to scheduling a meeting near your worksite if you have a group of participants.

Awards & Scholarships

Scholarships are available for members and their family members (based on their educational status since fall of 2015) . Scholarship Information. The family scholarship is for college juniors and seniors. E-mail your scholarship application to mgec@mgec.org Deadline for scholarship applications if 4:30 p.m. on August 23, 2015.

In addition to the MGEC family scholarship (mentioned above) this year MAPD is offering a $500.00 scholarship to a student (college freshman through graduate student)  in a science, engineering, land surveying program. The same application process used for MGEC scholarship will be extended to apply to this scholarship. This scholarship is offered through a generous donation by the Kusske Financial Management, who also provided MAPD membership with financial planning information at the MAPD Professional Development Day June 29, 2015.

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 3rd, 2015 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 Treasurer (2016-2018). Also open are four Director positions (2016-2018). 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, 2015.

 

June 1, 2015

Partial Government Shutdown – It might happen again if legislature and governor don’t reach agreement on budget bills for some agencies. Today, June 1st about 11,000 employees will receive layoff notices for layoff effective July 1, 2015.  About 100 of these employees are represented by MGEC.  Minnesota Management and Budget began meetings with the bargaining units May 28th with the claim that it’s their goal to “minimize harm.”  If only the elected leadership had the same goal.  MGEC informed MMB that a shutdown amounts to a “lock out,” not a “layoff” and furthermore any future discussion would need to be about making employees whole (i.e. provide full back pay and benefits) while honoring all the terms of the contract. Its clear MMB prefers some sort of agreement similar to past MOUs. Those discussions are scheduled for June 8th.  As in the past, employees should make financial and personal plans as if the shutdown will happen.  MGEC urges all employees to communicate with their elected leadership that they must reach a budget deal and not harm state employees needlessly again.

 

 

Bargaining – Insurance bargaining is underway. The employer’s projections have insurance costing $90M more than the previous 18 months to cover inflation and increased use. They are proposing that employees pay those additional costs through changes to deductibles, copays, a new higher copay for “specialist services” and premium increases.  Currently the state pays 95% of premium for employees and 85% for dependent coverage. The coalition of unions is seeking to hold the line on copays/deductibles while improving dental coverage by increasing the annual maximum (currently $1,500 per year) or modifying the formula for cost share. Other changes also in discussion.  With regard to health insurance the unions have put forth multiple proposals including: sharing cost of health clubs, reducing co-pays for repeat issues, other.  Given the state’s insistence on pattern bargaining, it’s anticipated that the MGEC contract will be completed in September (with retroactivity applying).  MGEC will be sending members a short survey soon to prioritize issues.

 

Diabetes Medication Therapy Management and Lifestyle Program

If you have diabetes this program will save you money and perhaps improve your lifestyle. It offers financial benefits from $250 to hundreds more depending on your situation.  It's now open to all state employee's and you can enroll today.  For more information visit the program website and FAQ at www.mn.gov/MTM.

 

September 30, 2014

MGEC Annual meeting was held September 18 with sixty-four persons in attendance. President Nelson welcomed members, thanked those who have served as Instructors, Board Members, Past Presidents and golf event sponsors. He awarded past president Jerry Kotzenmacher with a plaque thanking him for his service and unique leadership gifts shared with MGEC. Prior to the dinner and meeting, The golf tournament enjoyed perfect weather, a great course and the support of sponsors who provided prizes and helped keep green fees low. Sponsors included: Stonebrooke, Braun Intertec, WSB, Hiway Credit Union and the Minnesota Association for Professional Development (MAPD).

Members approved the following: Minutes from a past annual meting, FY2015 MGEC Budget; received an update on candidate for the MGEC Executive Board, discussed insurances, infrastructure funding and professional development opportunities.  A scholarship was awarded to Noumon Munir, son of MGEC member Hafriz Munir and Gulzar Munir. The scholarship is open to family members of MGEC members in their Junior/Senior year in an engineering field.

Open enrolment meeting begin October 31, 2014. Members are encouraged to participate in a worksite meeting provided by MMB and SEGIP to carefully review option for 2015. Following is the information provided by the state so far: List of open enrolment items    List of Greater MN Meetings

 

Lessons Learned  on Safety Boots

Last spring MGEC took to arbitration the state's limited reimbursement of the cost of safety boots. While the language of the contract is clear, "Any protective equipment or clothing shall be provided and maintained by the Agency whenever such equipment is required as a condition of employment..." (Article 16 - Job Safety,  Section 2. Employee Safety. B.) The arbitrator found that for many years, the state had implemented a policy which limited the amount of reimbursement. Further since there had been no complaints about this policy, until recent years, the arbitrator found the the state's had not violated the agreement.  In other words, language negotiated into an agreement must be challenged by employees as soon as the employer fails to adhere to it or attempts to modify it. Or, as learned in this lesson, an arbitrator may rule that time and implementation may take precedence over clear contract language.  In 2014 the State finally recognized what MGEC had been claiming all along, that the price of safety boots had gone up and raised the allowance to $125.00.

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)

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.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.