IFO Grassroots Organizing Spring Semester Update

This academic year has been one of exciting changes in the IFO. A key example is the IFO choosing to adopt a grassroots organizing model, led by our newest staff member, Director of Organizing, Matt Smriga. Through 1 to 1 conversations, phone calls and office visits, teams of Volunteer Faculty Organizers began the process of building relationships with colleagues across MinnState universities in order to recruit new IFO members and engage existing members on a deeper level than ever before.

Some results...

New members are up: so far this academic year we have recruited over 240 new IFO members. This exceeds the new member total from each of the last 5 fiscal years and sets a new record for new members added in a year (since the IFO began keeping track in FY13).

In addition to adding new members to the IFO, we’re beginning to see the results of a more deeply engaged membership base. On the recently completed contract ratification vote, we increased the number of those who voted on the contract by 200 members compared to the vote before, which represents a 4% increase in the participation of eligible voters. This is likely due in large part to organizing efforts to reach populations not before deeply engaged in the IFO, like the adjunct and community faculty membership drive that took place in January.

This is only the very beginning as we will continue to adopt a robust grassroots organizing approach into the future. If you are an organizer, reaching out to your colleagues on campus and engaging them in the work of the union, thank you. The work you do is strengthening your union.

Contract Implementation Information: Back Pay, Health, and Dental Benefits

As you know, the IFO contract has been passed by Legislature and is in the process of being implemented. Details of back pay and health and dental benefit changes are listed below. 

HEALTH AND DENTAL BENEFITS:
Health
The new $0 (down from $10) copayment for online care and convenience clinics will go into effect on May 1, 2018. You will be receiving new member cards from your medical carrier in the coming weeks. On May 1, you may begin using these resources at no out-of-pocket cost. 
 
Dental
Dental changes will take effect on January 1, 2019. They include an expanded benefit set and increased premium. Due to the higher premium, employees will be offered a new opportunity to add or drop coverage, which will be during Open Enrollment for 2019, happening this fall.
 
For more information on benefit implementation please visit MMB’s website.
 
BACK PAY:
The IFO contract back pay is being processed during the pay period that began April 4, 2018 and ends April 17 (April 27 paycheck). If you plan to make a change to your MinnState Tax-Sheltered Annuity (403b) Plan and/or the State’s Deferred Compensation (457), you will need to enter the change so that it is effective during this pay period. Please see the instructions attached. 
 
Tuesday, April 17 is the deadline to make Self-Service entries to tax shelter all or a portion of your back pay. The Self-Service is generally available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Entries need to be entered by April 17 to be effective the payroll period ending that day (paycheck 4/27/2018). 
 
Access your pay distribution and back pay information
To determine the amount of gross back pay you are scheduled to receive you can access your individual Employee Pay Details report in the Time & Leave Reporting Application (e-Timesheet), using your Star ID and password to log in. Once logged in, use the following instructions to run a report:

  • Select Employee Pay Details from the Time and Leave Reporting toolbar. 
  • You will see Pay Details Report and State Self Service in the drop-down displayed.  To view your pay details, select Pay Details Report
  • The Report Setup screen displays. Select the Fiscal Year for which you would like to view pay details for 2018.
  • Select “no” for the send report to email question.
  • Click Create Report to run the report.  

Back pay information will be available beginning on April 10, but will only be an estimate. It is advised that faculty wait until April 16 to review their details to allow time for HR/Service Centers to verify the amounts.
 
If you have any questions, please contact IFO Legal/Labor & Equity Director Pat Arseneault

IFO Legislative Update -- IFO Contract Clears First Committee Hurdle

The 2018 Legislative session started on Tuesday, February 20 and will run through Monday, May 21. The IFO has a number of important items we are working to pass this session as Gov. Dayton’s final term comes to an end. Below I will provide a detailed update on those items we are working hard to pass or stop.
 
IFO Contract
 
The IFO contract settlement has been introduced in the MN Senate as SF3154. This bill contains all other state employee contracts that have been finalized, thus far. On Tuesday, March 20 the bill cleared its first hurdle and passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. It has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, March 22. That will be the final committee stop before it is sent to the full Senate for consideration. We expect the bill to be passed by the Senate and sent to the House by the end of March. We urge you to contact your Legislators today and ask them to support the IFO contract.
 
The House has elected not to introduce a separate bill, as of March 20. It is expected they will wait for the Senate to pass SF3154 and take it up for consideration once the bill is received from the Senate.
 
As a reminder, the contract settlement MUST be approved by the Legislature before it will go into effect. For more details about the contract settlement please click here.
 
Additional Campus Funding
 
MinnState and the IFO are advocating for an additional $10 million in direct campus funding from the Legislature. The budget approved last year left $10 million unfunded from the request of MinnState. Various bills have been introduced to provide these funds to our campuses. The Legislature has a $329 million surplus to work with.
 
Gov. Dayton released his supplemental budget proposal on Friday, March 16, which can be found hereDayton’s plan spends $226 million of the state’s projected $329 million surplus, which includes funding $10 million for campus support for Minnesota State and $8.5 million in ongoing funding for Next Gen (ISRS overhaul).
 
During the State of the State address, Gov. Dayton said, “State government’s funding for higher education has also declined. In 2012, state support for the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State, and financial aid was, in real dollars, the lowest it had been since 1981. Once again, we have restored some of that loss, but we have still shifted too much of the costs of attending our state colleges and universities onto students and their parents.”
 
If the $10 million is appropriated by the Legislature, campuses would receive the following amounts: BSU $375,000, Metro $459,000, MSU Mankato $919,000, MSU Moorhead $479,000, SMSU $302,000, SCSU $988,000, WSU $581,000.
 
Campus Infrastructure Investments
 
Even year sessions are traditionally known as “bonding” years. These are sessions in which large investments are made in state-owned infrastructure. Typically, higher education will make up one-third of the total investment, split between MinnState and the Univ of Minnesota system.
 
The IFO is advocating for the MinnState capital investment request. The MinnState request includes $130 million for asset preservation (HEAPR) and $94.5 million (representing $63 million of state support and $31.5 million of MinnState support) for individual capital projects. The university campuses with projects include Bemidji State, MSU Moorhead, and MSU Mankato.
 
Governor Mark Dayton has proposed a $1.5 billion bonding package, including half a billion dollars for higher education, and $274.5 million for Minnesota State. This number consists of $243.3 million in state funding and $31.2 million in Minnesota State funding.
 
MinnState’s bonding request totals $224.5 million (further information can be found on the Minnesota State legislative website), but Dayton in his recommendation acknowledges the importance of taking care of the state’s infrastructure, and is recommending the system's entire request plus an additional $50 million in asset preservation (HEAPR).
 
Academic Freedom

LeadMN, the organization representing community and technical college students has pushed a bill to reduce textbook costs. The bills (SF3098/HF3985) require MinnState to post cost material information as part of course registration information. It would also require MinnState to create a plan to reduce the costs of textbooks. We are supportive of efforts to reduce the costs for students but are opposed to any mandates that infringe on academic freedom. We are opposed to these bills.
 
Campus Debt Service Repeal
 
The IFO is working with Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona) and Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Moorhead) on HF3746/SF3506, which have been introduced to repeal a provision that requires campuses to pay 1/3 of the total costs of new and remodeled building projects on our campuses. The provision was passed in the 1990’s in an effort to slow building projects on MinnState campuses but it has instead led to more building because campuses are all too willing to spend tuition revenue to upgrade their buildings. The IFO is supporting these bills. The bills would only repeal for projects going forward. Campuses would still be obligated to pay for past projects.
 
MinnState Central Office Relocation
 
Rep. Jim Knoblach and Sen. Jerry Relph have introduced HF3817/SF3402 that would require MinnState system offices to be relocated to a campus after the expiration of their current lease in Downtown St. Paul. The IFO does not have a position on this bill.
 
Lobby Days

The IFO held its annual Lobby Days event on Feb 28-Mar 1. We had faculty representing each of our seven state universities meet with Legislative leaders and local campus Rep's and Senators to discuss the issues important to state university faculty. IFO members met with dozens of Legislators and their discussions led directly to introduction of bills, previously unidentified supporters, and a lot of progress on our key issues. 

Additional updates will be sent throughout the Legislative session. If you are interested in contacting your Legislators please use our Legislative Action Center.
 
If you have any questions please contact me at bohn@ifo.org.

Attend Precinct Caucuses on Tuesday, Feb 6

“The world belongs to those who show up,” former state Sen. Jack Davies once famously said.

We need you to show up on February 6 at your local precinct caucus.

 

On Tuesday, February 6, Minnesotans will gather at neighborhood meetings across the state — called precinct caucuses — to set in motion the important process that will help Democrats, Republicans, and other political parties pick their candidates for Governor, Congress, legislative races, and 4 statewide constitutional offices for the election this fall. Party platforms will also be developed through resolutions that are offered at this first stage. 

Why should you attend? First, your job and livelihood will be decided by the people elected in November. Second, You will meet and engage with candidates running for your party’s endorsement. Third, You can shape the issues that your party stands for so it better represents you and your community. Lastly, you meet your neighbors and talk with them about issues important to you.

This is an important opportunity for faculty to engage prospective lawmakers about the issues that are important to them. We strongly urge all faculty to attend their local precinct caucuses and engage in the grassroots political process.

It is also an important opportunity to support Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan in the straw poll that will be conducted at the DFL caucuses. The IFO proudly endorsed Tim Walz's campaign for Governor in September. 
 

Also, volunteers will have a chance to be elected to county, legislative district, congressional district, and state conventions in the spring and summer. It is important faculty make their voices heard in this process to ensure higher education, workers rights, and the other issues we advocate for remain top issues for all political parties. 
 
Please visit the IFO website for detailed information and a draft resolution that could be offered at your caucus. For additional information about precinct caucuses, click here. To find your local caucus site please visit the MN Secretary of State's website by clicking here.
 
If you have any questions please contact our IFO Director of Public Affairs, Jonathan Bohn.