Minnesota legislators put forth anti-worker agenda
By Michael Kuchta 21 February 2011
|ST. PAUL - While media attention has focused on protests against anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin, lawmakers in Minnesota have been quietly putting forth an agenda that would increase corporate giveaways and put a higher burden on working families.
|Several bills also attack collective bargaining rights for public service workers. Here is a list of measures, all introduced by Republican legislators in the past month:
• Cut corporate income taxes – even though it makes the state’s budget deficit $200 million worse. (SF1)
• Cut corporate property taxes – even though it squeezes schools and local governments even more. (SF1)
• Extend existing tax breaks for corporations. (HF483) Giving corporations these extra tax breaks means homeowners will have to pick up more of the property tax tab.
• Drive down wages for all workers – and handcuff unions and their members’ power to improve wages, benefits and working conditions – by adding “work for less” loopholes through an amendment to the state constitution. (HF65)
• Cut the state workforce by 15 percent, which will eliminate 5,000 jobs in the middle of a recession. (HF4)
• For state workers whose jobs remain, impose a two-year wage freeze (HF127); increase the threat of privatization (HF53); force them to compete to keep their own jobs (HF192); and pave the way to eliminate their pensions. (SF81)
• Eliminate equal pay for women (HF7, SF282)
• Cut prevailing wage rates for public construction projects. (HF513)
• Impose a two-year wage freeze on all public school employees and outlaw economic strikes by school employees. (SF56, HF381)
• Limit teacher tenure to 5 years and give school districts the ability to unilaterally terminate teachers at the end of every 5-year period. (SF251)
• Allow MnSCU to deny seniority raises to full-time faculty. (SF253)
• Consolidate all accounting, financial, procurement, fleet service, human resource, and payroll functions of all executive branch agencies into one agency – or allow them all to be privatized. (HF418)
• Cut more state aid to higher education, which means more layoffs, fewer courses, but higher tuition. (SF60)
• Cut tax breaks for renters, but keep the decade-old tax breaks for millionaires. (HF129, SF82)
• Weaken arbitration for employees of local units of government. (HF501)
• Eliminate a Jan. 15 deadline by which school districts and their employees must reach collective bargaining agreements. (HF115, HF464)
• Make it more difficult for public employees and retirees to participate in insurance programs (HF371, SF247)
• Drive up costs of retiree health insurance (HF404)
Michael Kuchta is communications coordinator for AFSCME Council 5, the union representing 43,000 Minnesotans, including many state employees.