Hennepin Negotiators Recommend Contract Approval

9-18-2018

Hennepin County workers from six locals will vote on their contract Wednesday and Thursday.

AFSCME members may cast their ballots at any of these locations across the county.

The negotiating team from Locals 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 (legal unit), who bargain together, have recommended approval of the tentative agreement.

During negotiations, dozens of members held a number of protests, including marching around the Hennepin County Government Center and silently holding up signs outside a County Board meeting.

The three-year TA would include general raises of 2.5 percent in 2019, 2.5 percent in 2020 and 2 percent in 2021.

The contract also would standardize the range progression so everyone in range would get an additional 3 percent each year of the contract.

Before, the old step system gave workers in different jobs widely differing step increases and numbers of steps – some jobs had six steps, while others had 20. Overall, those raises averaged five percent across all jobs, but for many workers, it wasn’t even close: The old system resulted in step increases as low as 0.8 percent. 

“We had always called them ‘steps’ and many people thought it was an automatic ‘step’ when in fact it was not,” says Local 1719 president Aaron Printup. “Thankfully, we were able to negotiate a progression of 3 percent. That is a big deal because it will always be 3 percent for the life of the contract … people in the range, they are looking at a total of a 5.5 percent increase in 2019!”

The county can still offer merit raises above and beyond both general raises and the new range progression.

The contract includes language that guarantees that managers will treat workers with respect.

The TA would fix contract language that prohibited religious holiday use on Sundays; and expand funeral leave to allow time for grieving and to attend funerals for people outside of family.

“Our Local builds unity by being blatantly honest,” Printup says. “We don't always say what people want to hear, and we won't mislead or misinterpret. Staying laser focused on issues that we can have an effect on helped us get an amazing contract because of our reasonable expectation.”

The six locals negotiating together started with a huge wish list and an economic wish list, Printup says. They whittled those down to things that affect all locals. That allowed them to bargain as much together as possible, rather than breaking into individual locals. The locals do negotiate items that are specific to them:

  • Local 1719s’ correctional officers and senior COs won a 7 percent range adjustment to help the county recruit and hire new COs. The TA also would expand 1719’s range for people close to the top, and increase the uniform allowance.
  • Local 2864 won language that would prevent management from turning mandated shifts on scheduled days off into a pattern.
  • Local 34 won a wage adjustment for social workers doing MnCHOICES assessment working that would affect nearly 300 people.