- Is there is any timeline set for when the contract will be signed?
It’s likely to be January 2023.
- How the backpay is calculated?
Backpay is typically provided for hours worked from the effective date of the contract (likely to be July 1, 2021 to the date of implementation). More information will be provided by MGEC to help you estimate this value in the future. Please remember that this is taxable income. An employee may make adjustments to their tax withholdings for the pay period in which the backpay is paid.
- Why are none of the union contracts renegotiated before the last date of the contract? Why is this an acceptable practice? It seems to happen EVERY time.
It’s not a desirable practice, but it occurs for a variety of reasons.
- The employer is reluctant to negotiate a successor agreement while the legislature is in session. The administration maintains the right to solely negotiate with the collective bargaining units (unions, council, association).
- The employer insists on negotiating a contract with the largest group (AFSCME) of state employees first. Those negotiations have historically been completed the last week in June. In doing so, the employer doesn’t risk negotiating something better with a later smaller group and getting pushback from AFSCME/MAPE. There was one year when they settled a contract with MMA first, but that was because MMA proposed no pay increase.
- The employer insists on pattern bargaining. So, they need to create a pattern first.
- MGEC has asked to begin negotiations earlier in the year. But the employer refuses to include discussion of economic issues until after they’ve completed negotiations with AFSCME. We all know, language issues are often related to or impacted by economic issues or have costs. From our perspective, negotiations should address all issues throughout the process from start to finish. Consequently, the employer holds back discussion on the economics of issue (be it wages, vacation accruals, overtime or meal reimbursement) which delays the process.
- Do we have any mechanism to ask/require the state to pay interest on the interest-free loan each engineer is giving them on the back pay?
No law or contract language exists to require interest. The backpay isn’t due until an agreement is reached or an arbitrator’s order is issued. We do share responsibility for the contract not yet being settled, but we believe our members want us to try for more. We’ve seen other cases when interest was requested by the union but have never seen an arbitrator award it.
- How does the percentage increase affect people who retire from state service post contract expiration but pre-new one? For example, an engineer retiring in May should have a high-5 year that is 4% higher than what they’re credited with for MSRS pension purposes.
MSRS just told a soon to be retiree that when the back pay goes through, they run their calculation to determine if the “high five” should increase and then also the annuity benefit paid to the retired employee.
- Similarly, how are employees who leave state service reimbursed their back-pay they earned? Do we have any mechanism for that, to ensure the state isn’t committing any kind of wage theft?
An employee who has left state service but worked during the period of time the back pay covers, whether a retiree or someone who went to work for another employer, needs to contact MMB or their past agency and ask for the back pay. The employer doesn’t automatically provide it.
- Will we ensure the Juneteenth holiday gets included in this year’s contract when it is awarded? Or will MMB try to write it out as effective only for the second year of the contract? Can we refuse to agree to a contract that doesn’t include the holiday this year (as either an additional floating next year, 8-9 hours of vacation banked, or, at worst, double pay for that day?)
We contacted MMB in an attempt to reach an agreement to include Juneteenth for this year (June 20, 2022). MMB was not in agreement that we should have it as a paid holiday. Since then, we’ve sent a letter to the Governor’s office and MMB outlining the issue. We also have information available for members and we encourage you to contact the Governor’s office to share your opinion about MGEC members working on a day that other state employees have as a paid holiday. More information.