Joint Powers Employee Bargaining Bill Signed by Governor

Among other things, the bill provides a process for transitioning employees into a new bargaining unit once the joint powers entity is formed.
(Published May 12, 2014)

A bill that deals with collective bargaining agreements when a joint powers entity is formed was signed by Gov. Dayton on May 9. Chapter 223, HF 2939/SF 2490, sponsored by Rep. Tom Anzelc, (DFL-Balsam Township), and Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), was initiated by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 65 and initially contained many provisions objectionable to employer representatives, including the League.

As introduced:

  • The bill did not recognize the legal and functional distinction between an agreement that creates a separate joint powers “entity,” and one where one local unit of government is contracting for service with another.
  • It would have added costly administrative burdens that could undo or reduce any efficiencies or cost savings that local governments hoped to achieve by forming a collaborative entity.
  • The continuing contract provisions would have made it more difficult for employer and employee groups to reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. In a situation where employees of the new entity are guaranteed different terms of employment, it may become difficult to reach agreement on a contract that doesn’t meet or exceed the terms of what is considered the most generous existing one, especially if that contract isn’t set to expire for several years.

In early April, Gov. Dayton’s office asked the Bureau of Mediation Services Commissioner Josh Tilsen to assist stakeholders in reaching a compromise on HF 2939/SF 2490. The stakeholders involved are the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota School Boards Association, and AFSCME Council 65. The charge of the stakeholders was to balance the rights of organized labor with the desire to not create disincentives to intergovernmental cooperation.

The compromise that has reached the governor’s desk is a scaled-back version of the bill. It provides a process for transitioning employees into a new bargaining unit once the joint powers entity is formed. It also contains provisions dealing with seniority, personnel files, layoffs, and recalls.

Look for more information in the 2014 Law Summaries, which will be published after the conclusion of the 2014 session.

Read the current issue of the Cities Bulletin

* By posting you are agreeing to the LMC Comment Policy.