ST. PAUL, Minn. – Lawmakers in the Minnesota House today are considering a bill
that some state unions say would lead the state down the same path as Wisconsin when it comes to labor negotiations.
AFSCME Council 5, One of Minnesota’s largest public employee unions, argues the bill contains “Wisconsin-style right to work” language.
Republican Representative Steve Drazkowski’s proposal would limit unions’ collective-bargaining rights, restrict employees’ personal political activities, and make union dues optional. The bill also would negate the most recent contract negotiations with about 30,000 state workers.
Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5 said the bill mirrors Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recent anti-union measures.
“We’re the third-best state to make a living and our economy is the fifth-fastest growing in the U.S.A.,” he said. “Walker’s Wisconsin is lagging behind Minnesota on every one of these indices. Why, in anyone’s name, would we want to go to the policies of Scott Walker?”
Drazkowski argues the measure would be good for workers and the state because it saves taxpayer dollars. The unions argue that’s only because the bill reverses a proposed two-and-a-half percent pay raise for state employees.
Other labor unions have come out against Drazkowski’s measure, including the Minnesota AFLCIO. Seide said one of the biggest problems is that Drazkowski’s bill bans state union workers from joining in political activities during their time off.
“He’s holding those issues hostage to try to destroy workers’ aspirations for a better life,” he added. “What that bill would do specifically is restrict state employees from full participation in the political process.”
House Bill 3585 will be up for discussion at a House committee meeting today.