Legislature should approve state worker contracts ~
Eliot Seide (10/16/2017)
taking a 45 percent pay raise for themselves, Republican
lawmakers have denied a 2 percent cost-of-living raise
for 30,000 hardworking Minnesota state workers.
Subcommittee on Employee Relations voted 6-4 along party
lines with six Republicans voting to reject union
contracts with AFSCME Council 5 and MAPE.
of our contracts shouldn't be so difficult. Labor and
management bargained in good faith. We agreed to a 2
percent raise this year and 2.25 percent next year.
Those raises are in line with the private sector, where
large companies are giving their workers 3 percent
deals also save the state money on health care and are
within the operating budgets already set by the
modest contracts are affordable for the state and fairly
compensate the people who do Minnesota's work.
Republicans say taxpayers can't afford our contracts.
Their hypocrisy is shameful. Those politicians pocketed
a $15,000 pay raise and gave massive tax breaks to big
corporations and their wealthy buddies. Now, they want
to take away our raises and our rights.
Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) told Minnesota Public
Radio, "I'm concerned that what we have here is
increasing the payrolls of people who happen to work for
government at the expense of people who don't work for
be fooled by Drazkowski. He authored legislation to give
all workers the right-to-work for less money. We believe
every worker deserves a cost-of-living raise, whether
they work in the public sector or private sector.
attack on public workers is no surprise. It's happening
nationwide. Big corporations and the wealthy — along
with the politicians who do their bidding — have
rigged our economy and our political system against
are working longer hours for less money and fewer
benefits, despite being more productive. No matter how
hard we work, many of us are struggling to get by and
provide for our families. A cost-of-living increase
isn't too much to ask while lawmakers and CEOs see their
salaries and wealth skyrocket.
right-wing extremists attack labor unions, they're
really attacking the belief that everyday people should
have decent wages, benefits and a pension. For a
generation, the elites have held down the working class
with stagnant wages and eroding health and retirement
use their bullhorn to blame public workers for deficits
and debt. The working class shouldn't be fooled by this
attempt to distract and divide us. Public workers teach
our kids, heal the sick, protect our communities, plow
our roads, clean our water, and much more. Erasing all
of us wouldn't even begin to erase the deficits caused
by corporate welfare.
workers are your friends, your neighbors and your
customers. Nearly 22,000 of us live and work in Greater
Minnesota, where we spend our paychecks at grocery
stores, restaurants and gas stations. Every time
government cuts a public worker's job or pay, Main
Street loses a customer. As more stores shutter their
doors, that's not what our communities need.
workers are not the culprits who created an economy that
works only for the rich. We're struggling paycheck to
paycheck just like most Minnesotans. We're tired of
being pawns in a political game.
on the six Republicans who voted to reject our
contracts: Reps. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake), Steve
Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), John Howe (R-Rockville), and
Sens. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), Mark Koran (R-Stacy)
and Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson).
action is a slap in the face to every worker who demands
dignity and respect on the job. It harms morale and
hinders our state's efforts to retain workers and
recruit new talent. Minnesotans should let GOP
legislators know that maintaining high-quality state
services requires competitive compensation for state
the Legislature is not bound by the subcommittee's
recommendation. The subcommittee has rejected contracts
twice since 2010 — and the Legislature approved both
deals. We hope the House and Senate vote to approve our
state contracts when they return to the State Capitol
Seide is Executive Director of AFSCME Council 5, a union
representing the 15,504 state workers whose contract was