MN Public Workers Fear Walker-Like Laws

By James Schugel, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is starting to look like Wisconsin, at least when it comes to balancing the state budget.

At a Committee Hearing Monday night, several state senators listened to the debate from both sides of two Senate bills.

One of those bills would reduce the salary state workers make by six percent.

Another bill would cut the amount the state contributes into pension plans.

Most workers would see the state contribute 3 percent less, and the workers themselves would have to put 3 percent of their own money into their own plan.

“And the average company contribution in the private sector into pension funds is 2.1 percent. That is the average employer contribution in the private world,” said Pat Anderson with the Minnesota Free Market Institute, who added that the 401K Council of America surveyed 1,000 private companies with pension plans to get the information.

The changes, if approved in the legislature, would take effect in July. Unions negotiating new contracts would be required to make the changes.

Members of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, a Union representing 13,000 members of middle-class Minnesotans, are angry about the proposed changes.

Many protested the hearing from the Capitol’s hallway.

“We realize that there are difficult decisions to be made and that everyone will need to sacrifice. Public employees understand sacrifice – our members have taken repeated wage freezes and accepted pension reform measures that amounted to $6 billion in cost savings for the state of Minnesota,” said Jim Monroe, who a member of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.
Republican Senators introduced both bills.

“We are trying to balance a budget too. We’re in a difficult spot,” said one of the Republican senators.

Democratic Sen. Scott Dibble suggested that cutting state pension contributions and state workers’ pay could mean trouble now and in the future for Minnesota.

“We’re making public employment less attractive to some folks,” Dibble said. “And then how are we going to attract folks back into public employment?”

But a Republic senator spoke up after that.

“I really don’t think we’re going to have a hard time recruiting people. There are a lot of people who want the jobs we’re offering,” he said.

How much the proposed laws would save the state is not know. That information will be released later in the week.

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  • t j

    you know i hear about the public making concessions but i have yet to hear that everone at the state capital are going to do there part and take the same cuts that we are ,WHAT, they are are better then everyone else. what ever happened to leading the way .between paying out way tomuch in taxs and doubled heath benifits and now this!it comes down to everyone at the state capital are just to LAZY to do there damn job,If your going tocut the fat you better start whee you sit (talk about being top heavy,.

    • GN

      Pension plans in the majority of the private sector is non-existent unless the employee initiates it with their own money then the company will kick in some contribution. Secondly, pay increases in the private sector has been pretty much non-existent for several years now with a few exceptions. Our pay increases in the private sector does not come close to the accelerating rate of inflation.

      • Living Carefully

        Unfortunately public employees have NO CHOICE in participating in the PERA or other pension programs. Just like with social security many of them will NEVER see what they have put into the system because of monstrous errors made to retirees that are collecting extremely high pensions now. Give public employees the opportunity to opt out . . . make it more like the private pensions. IF the employee wishes to participate then the public employer would be limited in contribution also. As public employee I would prefer being allowed to decide what I want to put into a pension . . . the deferred comp plans (like 401K) even though most public employers donot fund deferred comp (fully funded by employee). LIke many private sector employees the empployees have seen not only wage freezes and much higher participation in lower level health plans, but we have also been forced to take mandatory unpaid furloughs. Better than layoffs but effectively the pay has been cut in additon to freezes. Now maybe some communities are doing things differently but don’t assume all government employees are living high on the hog. A mandatory shift of 3% from pay in addition to the freezes in place, the unpaid furloughs in 2011 and the 25% higher health insurance contributions (not including the higher co-pays and deductibles) will only cause a backwards spiral in our so called recovery. Think about the changes before you make them and the impact it will have on not only the employees but the economy also.

      • Gordon

        Compare similar jobs you would find the state worker earns less money for similar work made up in part by the pension. You should be comparing similar demographics.

    • Joe Hanson

      According to this article –

      when the Republicans took control of the legislature, they imposed a 10% cut in per diem. The article also states their salary has remained the same for a decade.

      • Matt

        So in 07 the left gave themselves more, then in 2010 the right scaled it back down… Seems to fit the MO.

      • Walker

        Ah, but that is not the whole story.
        Average per diem was 17000 in the house, 24000 in the senate. So in 2007 when they bumped the per diem the Senate thus gave themselves an $8000 raise, the House $1000.
        I did not go back and track what other benefits and perks they have increased, but rest assured they probably have. Also as recent years employers have cut back health insurance, I doubt the legislature’s copays and premiums have gone up.

  • MNTom

    Time to do in this state what Wi has done.

    • Fred

      Mark Dayton is a little smarter and more laid back than Governor Walker, so I doubt like Wisconsin we will have a governor blathering nonsense on the national media. We will let the ex governors do that. lol
      (when is spell checkers going to start recognizing lol?)

      • john fee

        Mark Dayton was treated for mental illness and QUIT on us as a senator. Did you know that Obama gave 2+ billion to Wisconsin, and they gave it to the public employees that supported him? They would not be in such a position, if Wisc. had faced their problems and used the 2+ bill to CORRECT their problems. Teachers in Mn make almost $53,00 on average, with pension and health benies. Either you work for the Gov or are an idiot. Do a little checking of the facts before you post.

  • mark from

    We need to do this, but it starts from the top down. One problem WI had is they just did the bottom, that will not fly in Minnesota

    • Walker

      What Wisconsin did was to try to break the state worker’s union. That will not fly here. Cost containment gets more difficult. An example of this is the last proposal. To decrease money to people with at home health care will lead patients to nursing homes, which also cost money. It might be slightly more labor costs for home care. That cost is more than offset by the cost of a facility. Essentially I don’t think this legislature has a clue other than looking at numbers.

  • Gopher guy

    Minnesota public workers, unlike those in Wisconsin, pay into their pension plan. Teachers, for instance, pay 5.8% of their salary into their pension plan. Know the facts folks before you scapegoat Minnesota public employees. Don’t fall for the Walker style tactics to destroy a segment of the middle class.

  • Mike

    The legislators need to cut their own salaries first. They make $31,000 a year for a 120 day legislative session. That needs to be cut to $10-$12,000. Per diem should be for legislators who live more than, say 80 miles from the capitol and cap it at $30 day. For housing allowance, those that are from districts more than 80 miles should use any unused dorm space at the U first then double them up in apartments that are going at an average rate, $650/month.

  • Joe Mauer

    Dayton would never even think about doing what the mighty Walker is. Our Governor would have a nervous breakdown from all of the protests and threats. You saw what he did to his Senate office back in the day. The guy already looks like he is running scared every day. Hey Dayton, BOO!!

  • Mauer is Gay

    The MN legislature except for Dayton is a bunch if bumbling fools that pander to the uber rich. If your a republican you better switch partys now while you have a job and some rights.

    • john fee

      WRONG! Daytons bill was defeated in the Senate 63-1!!!!!!! He was treated for mental illness and QUIT as our Senator. Gave himself an F either you work for the government and think you are entitled to a huge salary and FREE pension, or you are an idiot. Take your choice, but at least know the facts beforeyou start acting like you actually know what you are talking about!!!!!

  • lean on yourself

    I am a middle class worker. I have a job in the private sector that I am very grateful for. I struggle from paycheck to paycheck sometimes, but that’s nobody’s fault but my own. I have some retirement built up, some because of the employer contribution but mostly from my own contribution. No one owes me a thing if I don’t work for it. All I ask for is a fair wage for my abilities that I share with my employer. If I am not satisfied with what I am getting, I move on and find one that does or I suck it up and take it. The Lord above, my choices in life and education have dictated my road that I am traveling on.
    I don’t need someone negotiating or lobbying for my pay or benefits. I would encourage everyone to experience being on a school board for their district and try to figure out how to get a union backed teacher that is tenured out of your school that is absolutely the worst teacher you’ve seen. It is virtually impossible to remove them. Meanwhile the kids suffer in their education. Then you have to decide on pay raises. You can’t just give the outstanding teachers a 5% raise and the slacker teacher a 0% raise. Nope, because of the union, everyone gets the same raise. Explain to me how that is fair.

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