Your MGEC negotiating team began negotiations with the State one week ago on Tuesday, September 3, 2019. It seems fitting that negotiations began the day after Labor Day, a U.S. Federal Holiday since 1894 which honors the American labor movement and the collective bargaining associated with organized labor.
Our negotiating team held regular meetings throughout the summer to develop our contract opening proposals. Based on the experience of the Executive Board, dialogue at several on-site member meetings across the state, and direct responses from 684 members through a recent member survey, our team made a conscious and deliberate effort to develop proposals that address interest areas of both our membership as a whole, and specific subsets of the membership. Not an easy task considering we are representing members in 15 job classifications at 13 Minnesota State agencies.
The State’s lead negotiator in the first 3 days of negotiation (Tuesday, Friday, Sept. 6th and Monday, Sept. 9th) has been Austin Neese. Derrick Dasenbrock, MGEC President, is serving as our team’s lead. Clarifications were sought in several areas; notably with respect to the Graduate Engineer Trainee program, and within contract provisions related to vacation accrual based on past public and private sector employment.
MGEC provided a complete initial proposal package including contract language and economics, reserving the right to modify the proposal after receiving the State’s opening offer. MGEC’s initial proposals included meaningful increases to several different types of compensation (wages, reimbursements, deferred compensation, etc.) which reflected our members’ broad range of interests, as reported to us in the recent member survey and at member worksite meetings. We engaged in significant conversations with the State related to contract issues: including holiday and shift-differential compensation, expense allowances, promotional language, severance pay, compensation for exempt employees where hours worked exceed 80 in a pay period, wages, and other compensation.
Discussions on select topics were at times contentious; but broadly speaking, the negotiations have been amicable and positive in tone. Several participants from both teams noted that there is more helpful dialogue during this negotiating cycle than in previous years, which provides a better understanding of the basis for each side’s position.
More information on negotiations will be forthcoming at our member worksite meetings in Baxter, St. Cloud, Roseville, Duluth, and Willmar and here on the web. Your negotiating team is still actively at work, preparing additional content to support our economic proposals. Your membership in MGEC makes this possible. Thank you for your continued support of your 1000+ member and supporting member community, and our approximately 110 represented non-members.