MN Session Produced 'Under-the-Radar' Victories for Workers
Friday, May 26, 2023
Minnesota legislators adopted a lot of major policies in this year's session, including actions to support workers in many different fields. State employees are cheering the provisions.
A new statewide paid-leave program is among the highlights as Democrats pushed through a range of proposals with their majorities.
The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, which represents 15,000 state workers, was a key supporter of the paid-leave plan. Its president, Megan Dayton, said there were other victories, too. Collectively, she said, she feels they'll establish a new era for the state's workforce.
"It's a historic investment," she said. "It's also a breath of fresh air with programs and policies that, in my opinion, echo the spirit of FDR's New Deal."
According to MAPE, pension changes are a big win for its members, including a one-time 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment for retirees. Advocates were also able to secure back pay for state workers in the event of a future government shutdown.
Republicans and some business groups have criticized some of the plans, namely the paid-leave program, set to begin in 2026. The National Federation of Independent Business in Minnesota described it as "complex employment regulations and severe penalties that will create more headaches for Main Street."
However, Dayton said whether it's paid leave or the other policies signed into law, Minnesota is in a better position to attract workers, including state government.
"Recruitment and retention is a really difficult piece of the workforce for everybody right now," she said, "and we think that many of the provisions made through this legislative session will contribute to making the state of Minnesota an employer of choice."
As for other workplace changes, the Legislature broadened protections for nursing mothers and pregnant employees. That includes allowing for a pregnant worker to take longer restroom, food and water breaks as an accommodation without being required to provide documentation.
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