The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 65 is the exclusive representative for two of the seven bargaining units in Mille Lacs County.. AFSCME and the employer (Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners) have actively engaged in negotiations for collective bargaining agreements since the early 1970s.
My name is Sheila Pokorny, and I am currently the Labor Representative for AFSCME Council 65 negotiating on behalf of the AFSCME members since 2016. This communication is to specifically address Commissioner Phil Peterson’s statement that the County employees have received an average of a 5% Cost of Living Adjustment per year. Commissioner Peterson’s statement is not accurate if applied to any of the AFSCME Local 2889 bargaining agreements negotiated with Mille Lacs County. In fact, the AFSCME bargaining units in Mille Lacs County have not received above 2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment in any one of the past four years.
In the past several bargaining cycles, the AFSCME members and the County Board have negotiated 2-year agreements, with the current agreement being in effect from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021. In order to be fully ratified, both the union members and the county board must hold official votes to approve the agreements and must provide signatures to fully execute the agreements. This means the County Board negotiated and approved any Cost of Living Adjustments or changes to any other provisions of the agreements. County Board Chair Roger Tellinhuisen signed on behalf of the employer for both of the most recent AFSCME agreements.
Agreements between AFSCME Council 65 and the employer are posted on the County’s website. Non-AFSCME bargaining agreements and non-union pay scales for 2020 and 2021 are also posted and will reflect that those employees received the same Cost of Living Adjustment as employees represented by AFSCME Council 65.
By my math a 2.5% increase is not an average of 5% as County Commissioner Phil Peterson stated at the Board meeting on July 5th.
Sheila M. Pokorny
AFSCME Council 65