What's New at Teamsters 320
Kellie has worked as a nurse for four and a half years. She’s also studying to get her masters degree in nursing education at Bethel University, thanks to a scholarship she received through her union.
In Kellie’s view, the primary goal of all nurses is to protect their patients from harm. When she works at the hospital, Kellie focuses on helping patients back to health so they can return to their families and careers.
As a union member, Kellie has the stability she needs to give support to her patients. Kellie’s hospital has hundreds of nurses–joined together, they have a strong voice in the hospital. That means she feels safe bringing up concerns about patient care to her manager without fear of repercussions or backlash. Because of her union, Kellie can keep her focus where it belongs: caring for her patients.
Maureen is a 911 dispatch supervisor for the city of Minneapolis and a member of Teamsters Local 320. Every day, she assists Minnesotans in crisis over the phone. What keeps her coming back to her job is the chance to help people.
As a union member, she feels a sense of solidarity with other medical workers that she never felt in prior jobs. Most importantly, Maureen is secure knowing that her sons, 14-year-old Damien and 3-year-old Miles, are taken care of thanks to her union benefits. At work, Maureen feels able to focus on the people in crisis on the other end of the line. Being part of a union gives her the support she needs to deal with life’s unexpected challenges–on the job and off.
Today, Feb. 20, is the first day of the 2018 legislative session in St. Paul and Teamsters Local 320 is monitoring important legislation for Minnesota’s public employees.
We are keeping tabs on next week’s February Economic Forecast on Wednesday the 28 – we are hoping for a positive outcome with state money to spend on our schools, higher education, and pensions. After the budget forecast, we can anticipate supplemental budget recommendations from Governor Dayton.
If the budget forecast is bleak, we can then expect very minor adjustments in spending for our priorities and little to no movement on supplemental budget recommendations. However, we have heard that a projected surplus in the short-term is possible even though last November’s economic forecast estimated a long-term structural deficit.
The biggest item on our agenda is public employee pensions and protecting the Defined Benefit Pension or traditional pension plan. We know that the MSRS, PERA, and TRA boards of trustees are working diligently to address the underfunding issues with some of the plans. There are proposed solutions to fix plans that are underfunded without moving away from a traditional pension. Unfortunately, there are also some legislators who want to use any funding issue with the plans to move towards a 401k-type retirement plan for new hires in the public sector.
We are also determined to address the issues with McKenna’s Law and the unintended strain it has caused our court system and assistant public defenders.
We are working to ensure first responders receive post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presumption under the Minnesota’s Work Comp laws and heart attack coverage for county correctional officers. Currently the law provides for heart attack coverage for state correctional officers only. We hope that this item will be perceived as a straightforward and necessary fix.Lastly, we are monitoring the state contracts for AFSCME and MAPE that were rejected by the Joint Committee on State Employee Relations or JSER. Teamsters Local 320 has a contract for its MSUAASF bargaining unit that must also move through the JSER committee. The attacks on state contracts are harming thousands of state employees here in Minnesota. We are working with both political parties to get these contracts passed and we will continue to fight for the rights of all Minnesota workers!
Tuesday, April 17, 2018. 8:00 AM.
Over the course of several months Teamsters Local 320 was engaged in a battle with its largest employer – the University of Minnesota. The battle is over but the fight for workers' rights has just got even stonger. Other unions and organizations had our backs during this battle and today -- we say, "THANK YOU!"
In early 2018 the Minnesota Legislative Commission on Public Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) held a hearing on January 24 with presentations from some very troubling testifiers. The LCPR is a state-run committee comprised of state legislators.
Kurt Winkelmann, Senior Fellow, Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute, University of Minnesota, presented to the LCPR that he believes Minnesota “faces a pension funding challenge.” Through his work at the Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute, he believes that employees should bear all pension funding obligations and any future liabilities alone – similar to a 401(k) plan. Winklemann concludes that “alternative governance choices” for public employee pensions are warranted to “reduce budget volatility.”
The second presenter was Joseph Fox, Executive Director, Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. Oklahoma privatized its state pension in 2015, and moved all new state employees hired after 2015 from the Defined Benefit Plan to a Defined Contribution Plan, or 401(k)-type plan.
Fox testified to the LCPR that the pension privatization scheme was the result of lean state budgets since the Great Recession in 2009, and how the state could not raise employee pension contributions because the average Oklahoma state employee makes only $32,000 per year.
Fox was asked by an LCPR member how it was able to pay for the transition cost to the 401(k)-type plan when new hires are no longer contributing to the traditional pension plan, or Defined Benefit Plan. Fox replied that the state kept costs under control by not providing a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) to current retirees for over a decade.
It’s no surprise that there are legislators on the LCPR who want to privatize Minnesota’s public pension systems (MSRS, PERA, and TRA), but the Oklahoma example appeared to be a lesson on what not to do!
Just yesterday the LCPR reconvened to hear testimony from Alex Brown, Research Manager, National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) on national public pension trends.
Brown’s testimony was certainly more neutral than both Winkelmann’s and Fox’s presentations, but he concluded that “new hybrid plans are being created by legislatures nearly every year.” So-called hybrid plans are Defined Contribution Plans with Defined Benefit Plan components, and lower benefit accrual rates. Basically, hybrid plans are 401(k)-type plans where the state or governmental employer continues to take responsibility for the plan’s long-term liabilities.
The good news from Brown’s testimony was how Minnesota’s public pension plans are categorized as performing in the median to high ranges.
Teamsters Local 320 understands that the vast majority of its membership and most of Minnesota’s public employees want a traditional pension plan, Defined Benefit Plan, and not a 401(k)-type plan. We do not believe that the proponents of pension privatization in the legislature will be successful this year, but we do contend that these hearings are laying the groundwork for upcoming pension battles over reform schemes. Teamsters must remain vigilant!
What can you do to help or get involved?
On , Teamsters Local 320 will participate in a major rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul with other public employee unions such as AFSCME, Education Minnesota, IFO, MAPE, MNA, and SEIU. The rally begins at and its purpose is to send a message to the State Legislature that our unions will not back down when it comes to our collective bargaining rights, pensions, and benefits – all of which are under attack in one form or another.
On , Teamsters Local 320 will host its annual Lobby Day in St. Paul where Teamster members can meet with their elected officials at the State Capitol. There will also be a reception for Lobby Day attendees on in St. Paul.