Committee Summary: House Labor, Industry, Veterans & Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee, March 1

Reporting by Lolla Nur, Freelance Community Journalist and UpTake Fellow

The House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee meeting had a hearing on March 1, 2022, beginning at 3pm. The hearing focused on four bills: 

  • HF 2005 (Rep Jamie Long, DFL 61B), public labor relations modified, informational hearing only.
  • HF 603 (Rep Sydney Jordan, DFL 60A), public labor relations modified, informational hearing only.
  • HF 3395 (Rep Michael Nelson, DFL 40A.), Public Employee Relations Board data provisions modified, money appropriated.
  • HF 3620 (Rep Rob Ecklund, DFL 03A), licensed residential building contractor allowed to receive installation seal for used manufactured home installation.

HF 2005 and HF 603 were informational hearings only. HF 3395 was voted by members to move to the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law committee. HF 3620 was voted to the Housing Finance and Policy Committee.

Here are some key points about each of the bills. 

HF 2005 

HF 2005 will provide union representatives the opportunity to pitch for union membership to public employees, including the right to meet with new employees as part of orientations, the right to use meeting space during work breaks, the right to contact employees electronically (via email) and the right to access new hire employee data regularly. 

The bill would also protect employee data from being targeted or harassed by organizations and third parties via visits to their homes, mailers and emails. Union members would be entitled to privacy from such contact. 

The testifiers for this bill were: Brian Elliott (Executive Director of SEIU MN State Council) and Edward Reynoso (Teamsters Local 320).

HF 603

Over 400,000 Minnesotans are members of unions according to Rep Jordan (DFL). That’s over 16% of the state’s workforce. Two of Minnesota’s largest school districts have filed notices to strike because of their interest in negotiating for the learning conditions of their students, she said.  

HF 603 as amended addresses lapses in Minnesota state law by guaranteeing union access to all new hires at worksites so they can explain their rights at work, including the right to join the union. This bill was heard in Education policy last week. HF603 will expand subjects of mandatory bargaining to include class sizes, frequency and use of standardized tests not mandated by law.

Testifiers for HF 603 included Kate Schmidt (an elementary teacher in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District),  Paul Terry (Music teacher, Osseo School District), and Edward Reynoso (Teamsters Local 320).

Rep Donald Raleigh (R 38A) brought up a question about why a union would need an employee’s cell phone number and the need to include language that protects employees’ cell phone numbers from being accessed without their permission. 

Rep Bob Dettmer (R 39A) stated that he felt many aspects of the bill could be addressed at the local school district, with more local school, board and parent involvement. 

HF 3395

This bill funds the Public Employee Relations Board, a small state agency which was recreated in 2014 by a bill introduced by Rep Lyndon Carlson (DFL). The board is charged with reviewing and investigating unfair labor practices, in the most cost efficient way as possible. It is currently funded at $125,000 per year. 

The board is supposed to resolve disputes between public employers and employees, however the board has no full time staff and has been underfunded/underfunctioning. As a result, those labor disputes go to court (instead of through the board), which Rep M. Nelson and testifiers stated is a costly and lengthy process for both unions and public employers.

Testifiers were Devin Bruce (MN Association of Professional Employees, a union that represents 15,000+ state employees across Minnesota’s boards and commissions), Meg Luger (Public Employment Relations Board member), and Ed Reynoso (Teamsters Local 320).

HF 3620 

This bill addresses Minnesota’s shortage of licensed manufactured home installers. It allows licensed residential building contractors to be issued installation seals for use when installing used manufactured homes. It also allows both manufactured home installers and licensed residential building contractors to affix installation seals on used manufactured homes.

Rep Ecklund stated that there are 70 licensees in the state able to complete new manufacture and used manufactured home installations. Mark Brunner (Manufactured & Modular Home Association of Minnesota) was the only testifier on this bill.

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