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Minnesota state workers press Senate to approve contracts, block pay cut

The contracts of tens of thousands of state employees were approved last year and the Minnesota House of Representatives approved them but the Senate has not.

Minnesota Capitol Dome
The electrolier illuminated the dome of the Minnesota State Capitol building on the first day of the 2019 legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.
Michael Longaecker / Forum News Service file photo
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ST. PAUL — State employee unions representing roughly 50,000 workers around Minnesota on Thursday, May 12, called on the Senate to approve their contracts in the week remaining in the legislative session.

The contracts were negotiated last year and the Minnesota House of Representatives ratified them. But the Senate delayed similar action, setting up a potential rollback of 2.5% cost-of-living increases and other benefits without a vote.

Minnesota lawmakers funded the increases as part of the state budget they approved last year and state employees have already seen the raises applied to their salaries. Without quick action, union leaders said, tens of thousands could see a pay cut.

“We have all provided much-needed services like health care, corrections, college faculty and care for our state’s veterans, seniors and the most vulnerable,” Minnesota Association of Professional Employees President Megan Dayton said. "Passage of these contracts simply means that we can continue to provide services to these people around the state."

A spokeswoman for the Senate Republican Caucus said that leaders in that chamber hoped to take up the contracts next week.

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The union groups said they would continue pressing leaders to take up the contracts ahead of the May 23 close of the 2022 legislative session.

“With just a week left in the legislative session, it would be criminal to not pass this and potentially have a pay cut,” Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner said. “This is not the way to honor the heroes of our pandemic.”

MORE FROM DANA FERGUSON:
Gov. Tim Walz and front-line workers on Wednesday encouraged essential workers who'd stayed on the job during the height of the pandemic to apply for hero pay through the state.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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