Senator Newman Explains Flaws of Employee Contracts

Subcommittee Split on Party Lines

Union Contracts
Union Contracts

ST. PAUL, Minn.- On Monday, Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) released a statement explaining his vote against state union contracts, while also pointing the flaws in the contracts.

Newman started by talking about a discrepancy in the living standard and the increase proposed by the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB).

“Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the state agency responsible for negotiating with the public unions on behalf of Minnesota, testified the proposed contracts provided a two percent and 2.25 percent cost of living adjustment in 2017 and 2018, respectively, for union employees at a time the cost of living rose only 1.8 percent,” Newman said. “I do not think it is appropriate to provide a cost of living adjustment that exceeds the actual increase in the cost of living.”

Newman went to examine the plans to finance these new union contracts by the MMB.

“MMB testified they intended to pay for the cost of living adjustment with a $123 million savings on health care premium costs,” he said. “Because the State of Minnesota is self-insured, MMB was counting on a statistical savings of what Minnesota might save in health care costs over two years. Using a onetime possible savings to fund a permanent expenditure is not sound fiscal policy.”

Newman dropped a bombshell when he pointed out the caginess of the MMB when it came to the proceedings, saying “[when] asked for the dollar amount of their actual budget, MMB representatives were unable – or unwilling – to provide a number.”

Finally, Newman was critical that the amount of paid vacation time was excessive.

I would be interested in a conversation of whether requiring an employee to work ten out of 12 months is reasonable,” Newman responded to the current vacation time amounts.

Newman’s comments were in response to a recent vote by the Subcommittee on Employee Relations which rejected the contracts for the American Federation of State, County, Municipal (AFSCME) Council 5 and Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE). The vote was split on party lines, with the six Republicans voting against the new contracts and the four Democrats voting for them.

“Our role is not to micromanage the executive branch,” said Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) to the West Central Tribune, “We can afford this.”

Henry Carras