Leaders from the two largest state employees unions endorsed tentative contract deals reached with the state, which would end the largest strike by state workers in the Gopher State’s history. Roughly half the state’s workers have been on strike since October 1 delayed by two weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks (see Minnesota State Workers Strike ).
Governor Jesse Ventura approved the deal late Saturday, but rank-and-file workers probably won’t vote on the contract for several weeks.
The agreement, reached just after 2 a.m. Sunday, would give American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) a 3.5% wage increase for each of the next two years, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Workers belonging to the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) would receive 3% pay hikes for each of the two years. Additionally, union representatives said there were “significant improvements” in the health care package compared with offers made prior to the strike.
Both sides could claim victory in the final agreement. Prior to the strike, the state had offered back-to-back 3% increases for all AFSCME employees for two years and a one-time 4% bump for MAPE’s members. For their part, AFSCME had asked the state for a 5% across-the-board increase each of the next two years, while MAPE had pushed for a 4.5% increase.
During the strike, managers were pulling double-duty shifts, while as many as 1,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard had also been helping out.
Minnesota’s last state workers strike, in 1981, involved 14,000 employees and lasted 22 days.