|President Forrest Hasty||Vice President Corey Mathisen|
|Past President Mohammad Dehdashti||Treasurer Gene Hicks|
|Secretary Laura Lyons||Director Heather Gardner|
|Director Jason Hedeen||Director Kevin Joyce|
|Director Mike Kruse||Director Blake Nelson|
|Director Steven Oswald||Director Jason Radde|
|Director Mark Trogstad-Isaacson||Director Victor Vasas|
|Executive Director Dana Wheeler|
Call to order
Meeting was called to order by President Forrest Hasty at 3:38 pm.
Motion to approve the edited agenda by Heather Gardner; Victor Vasas seconded the motion. Motion passed by unanimous Teams vote.
Secretary’s report (approval of prior meeting minutes) (Laura Lyons)
The minutes from the July meeting were reviewed but not finalized since Laura and Dana were not able to reconcile some differences due to their summer schedules. Accordingly, July meeting minutes will be reviewed next meeting.
President’s report (Forrest Hasty)
- MGEC Board news
- Executive Committee
Didn’t meet in August; will begin meeting routinely in September to review building updates, as agreed to in the May 2021 Board meeting.
- Annual Meeting
- Files are being prepared for annual virtual meeting next Monday (August 30). Student scholarship winners were invited to attend the meeting if they’re available.
- MGEC Executive Board Nominations and Elections
- In October 2020 the Board set the 2021 election date as November 2, 2021. Working back from that date, nominations close September 24th.
- Vice president, treasurer, and four director positions are open.
- Set the Nominations/Tellers Committees (must be a full member, can’t be running in the election, and can only be on one of the two committees):
- Nominations: Hannah Braatz, Mohammad Dehdashti, Heather Gardener
- Tellers: Gene Hicks, Mike Kruse, Victor Vasas
Motion to approve the committee nominees by Mike; Mohammad seconded the motion. Motion passed by majority Teams vote.
- Communications/Social Committee (Corey, Gene, Heather)
- Committee will decide a Chair, and Co-chair if desired.
- Finance Committee (Gene, Mohammad, Blake, Laura, Victor)
- Met a few times in August; see updates and discussions in the Treasurer’s Report section.
- Legislative Committee (Laura, Forrest, Jason R., John Siekmeier, Mark, Dana)
- Continue updating other policies, such as lost time and board stipends, to reflect current practices.
- Member Advocacy Committee (Dana, Forrest, Mark)
- The committee met to discuss how far to take a grievance when an employee requested an extension to his vacation cap during COVID-19 and was denied at the latest possible time. It was decided to pursue the issue to the first step.
- Negotiations Committee (Dana, Corey, Forrest, Blake, Jason R., Jeff Southward, John Siekmeier, Kevin, Mike, Mohammad, Thomas Villar, Victor)
- MGEC and our lawyer, Jim Michels, opened negotiating with MMB on July 28th, and day 2 of negotiating was on August 10th. An overview of our proposals and counter-proposals:
- On July 28th MGEC provided MMB detailed salary and benefit studies for each classification to justify our requested salary increases. MMB is still evaluating this information; the Committee hopes MMB responds at the next meeting (Aug. 30).
- MMB had not yet given a COLA.
- MGEC wants to change meal allowances to per diem like that of state representatives; MMB wants to reduce them by eliminating specific higher reimbursement rates for some localities and eliminating reimbursement for the noon meal without an overnight stay.
- MMB proposed dropping tuition reimbursements and equity adjustments piloted in the 2019-2021 contract.
- MMB accepted our basic editorial comments throughout the contract.
The Committee has additional negotiating scheduled for August 31 and September 2.
- Promotional/Recruiting Committee (Kevin, Blake, Corey, Mohammad, Victor)
- Committee will split a list of new represented non-members up by which board member or local representative will contact them.
- Some committee members will attend the virtual MnDOT grad engineer meeting. There’s also an in-person grad meeting that MGEC could send folks to too.
- Jason H. will follow-up with Des at MnDOT about the date/schedule.
- Technology/Education Committee (Corey, Heather, Jason H., Kevin)
- Continue reviewing P.E. class reimbursement requests as they come in.
Executive Director’s Report (Dana Wheeler)
- Bargaining update
- See Negotiations Committee updates above.
- Arbitration update
- Progress on the MnDOT District 3 flexing time arbitration case. The Arbitrator’s recent ruling on another grievance concerned MGEC that the Arbitrator might not address the central issue (i.e., employer creating guidelines that are an overreach into contract language) and instead only provide the remedy of restoring lost leave. MGEC decided to settle with MnDOT on the amount of lost leave and notify the employer that any further overreach will be grieved. This returned some hours to each affected employee; a worthwhile conclusion for a case that’s stretched almost three years for some members.
- MnDOT has said that District 3 will no longer work with time balancing the way they have been. However, MnDOT is not willing to tell employees that they said this to MGEC during the settlement, so MGEC will tell District 3 employees this.
- Progress on the arbitration case that staff could not accrue vacation and sick leave while taking COVID-leave. MGEC proposed the following settlement: Under federal COVID-leave law (which proceeded State policy), employees could use COVID-leave for up to 80 hours without changing other parts of their contracts. So for any employees who used up to 80 hours COVID-leave (i.e., their federal COVID-leave), the State should return sick/vacation leave to those employees for those hours. For any COVID-leave taken in excess of 80 hours (i.e., leave taken under State policy instead of federal law), MGEC would settle that sick/vacation leave time would not be given by the employer.
The MMB lawyer on the arbitration thought we misinterpreted the federal law so we’re waiting for their response, which is anticipated before negotiations the week of August 30th.
- Staffing Update
- No new applications with relevant experience were submitted since the July meeting. If any are submitted, Dana will forward them to Corey for his help reviewing while Dana is busy with negotiations.
- Dana started drafting a pure administrative position. In the meantime, he is checking with Kari about her ability to continue processing membership information and a candidate who was in the top few candidates last time for her interest in the position, before finalizing the position description.
- MMB didn’t consult with unions before sending out HR Policy #1446, the vaccination policy, unlike most other policies it’s issued during COVID. Previously, when MMB gave the unions a policy to review, it got changed slightly to be better interpreted, clearer, etc. Whether or not each union agrees or disagrees with the policy, discussions should’ve been allowed between both sides, as these were changes to the conditions of employment. MAPE and AFSCME even asked for it the night before, offering to get comments back by noon the following day, and MMB refused.
- Since the policy was released without union input, MGEC emailed members a brief survey about how people intended to satisfy the policy. At the time of the August Board meeting, 697 members had responded (62% response rate). Responses were:
- 77% of members intend to provide proof of vaccination
- 6% are excluded due to full-time telework or not at worksite >10 minutes
- 8% will get tested weekly
- 9% do not intend to comply with the policy.
- Policy goes into effect Sept. 8th, but if someone went to get vaccinated the day the policy came out it could take around 5 weeks to be considered fully vaccinated. In the meantime they’d have to get weekly tests to comply.
- MAPE and AFSCME’s positions thus far have been in support of insisting that MMB bargain policies that affect terms of employment with unions.
- If MAPE and AFSCME begin forming a coalition of unions to grieve this policy, Dana will send their proposed language to the Board to discuss and vote in support/opposition.
- Membership summary –
Ordering new Yeti tumblers soon. More shirts have been requested than tumblers as of late but that varies.
- Communication Practices
- Discussed the recurring problem of MGEC Constant Contact emails going to people’s junk and quarantine folders, similar to what happened two years ago. See June minutes for a summary of lessons-learned from two years ago.
Additional actions that have been taken on this issue thus far:
- BizzyWeb (MGEC’s website designers) suggested another email program that might be a little more effective but more costly (hubspot.com, $50/mo for 5 outgoing messages). They cannot support us with MailChimp or MyEmma services.
- Dana heard from Commissioner of MMB and the lead Negotiator after he requested their assistance with the state revising its SPAM filters to make that communications partnership happen that they won’t help as it is not in their mission.
- Dana reached out to all the unions MGEC works with and heard back from AFSCME, MAPE, and MMA. AFSCME uses a proprietary national program that all locals can use, but they also get blocked by spam filters. MAPE uses MailChimp. MMA uses union-ware which is also proprietary.
- Mailchimp is the only one with phone support (after $299/mo) which Dana prefers over the chatting option that the other services provide.
Action items: Dana plans to send communication out via Constant Contact and MailChimp the evening of August 23 or the morning of August 24th, to see which reaches a broader audience.
Treasurer’s Report (Gene Hicks)
- Review monthly finance report and approve of a budget for FY2022.
- Monthly Financial Update
Dana’s monthly salary was listed as double in the June 2020 budget presented to the board at the July board meeting. Dana determined that the budget report inaccurately stated that duplicate payments were made. This was corrected in the final FY2021 (June) budget report.
- MGEC Assets
The finance committee met twice in August to discuss MGEC’s assets, including its building and funds in CDs and mutual funds. They were tasked with making a recommendation to the Board of how much money should be kept in various areas, and whether or not it is time to consider selling the MGEC building.
- Maintaining sufficient investment principal to offset MGEC expenses, allowing dues to remain low.
- Having sufficient funds to provide insurance for those who are not eligible for employer contribution to health insurance in the event of a layoff.
- Have sufficient funds to pay accrued liabilities and nine months expenses.
- Budget at level that provides staffing values of at least 2 FTE, lobbying, and legal.
- Other requests of the committee were to calculate how much money is required for goal ii, and whether a kick-back/reimbursement to members is appropriate given the MGEC FY21 surplus.
The committee did not have a recommendation at the time of the board meeting; rather they presented the building and funds financial details and requested input from the Board.
Discussions included the point that if we deal with all of these assets as pieces, we’ll get a piecemeal solution. We need a financial advisor to provide a holistic picture for MGEC’s assets based on its financial goals – what assets need to be invested where, based on MGEC’s expected income needs. The Board agreed.
- Accordingly, the Finance committee agreed to find and talk to a financial advisor before the September meeting.
Motion to invest another $10,000 per month for the next 12 months (for a total of $120,000) in the Vanguard index fund, starting in October 2021, by Gene; Mohammad seconded the motion. Roll call was requested:
- Yays: Mohammad Dehdashti, Heather Gardner, Gene Hicks, Mike Kruse, Mark Trogstad-Isaacson, Victor Vasas
- Nays: Jason Hedeen, Laura Lyons, Corey Mathisen, Blake Nelson, Jason Radde
Motion passed by majority Teams vote.
Past President’s Report – (Mohammad Dehdashti)
Vice President’s Report (Corey Mathisen)
Joint Labor Management insurance group met August 17. Projected increases in MN State health insurance rates went down from 3.6% to 3.0%. In order to do that MMB is spending reserves each year. They built in 1% contingency for people going to the doctor more now, since people skipped routine appointments in 2020. Short term disability is going down. Dental, long-term disability, vision rates are staying the same. The next JLM meeting will be on Oct. 19, 2021, with the main topic of open enrollment.
Website updates: send any necessary updates to Dana and he will communicate them to Kari.
A motion was made to adjourn by Mike Kruse, Blake Nelson seconded. Passed by voice vote at 6:08 pm.
Laura Lyons Dana Wheeler
Secretary Executive Director