AFSCME/TSS Meet and Confer
Date: October 7, 2021 Time: 9:00am-10:00am 

Rachael took attendance and then reminded all to send agenda items in advance.

Karin presented a general COVID-19 update.

• 3486 Mn DOT employees report to a worksite (some report occasionally)
• 64% of those who report to worksite are vaccinated; an increase of 1% since last week
• 2760 tests have been administered to Mn DOT employees since testing launch
• 1% is MnDOT positivity rate
• Starting next week, we will publish a link that will have further details on the Mn DOT 

Karin reported on the legislative hearing on no-pay status on 10/6/21, MnDOT has two employees on no-pay status. Thank you for your help with that. Testing sites are up and running this week so numbers will increase. Metro testing site is where most of CO is testing. We are working on fine-tuning the CO employees that need to test in districts. We are working on getting the data sent out. For now, only CO HR has info that we then send out to districts.

Lia brings up that while understanding the testing program was rolled out from above, it was a haphazard roll out with some district employees having only 48 hours to respond to communications. Many employees had questions. The rollout caused undue tension. Lia thanked those who were in the middle trying to roll out testing but, it was difficult because employees were waiting for answers to questions. It was also frustrating that some areas were not proceeding at the same pace as other areas and frustrating that it was announced on 8/11/21 and even though it is 10/7/21, everything is not answered or in place.

Nancy appreciated Lia's feedback and indicated that MnDOT is a big agency. She acknowledged there were starts and stops, especially with the testing being statewide. There were a lot of questions. It was a heavy lift.

MMB agreed that implementation had a bit of a bumpy start. Nancy thanked AFSCME and the members for the help to get us where we are now.

Cori shared that MnDOT is stopping to identify lessons learned from this implementation. She appreciated the feedback and acknowledged that we are all doing the best we can to get this implemented. She invited AFSCME to provide any specific suggestions for future rollouts.

Kim shared that MnDOT would have planned to have a different approach if we had more time. We want to hear what our employees are experiencing and thank you for sharing.

Louis thought that the rollout would maybe have gone better if the supervisors had been doing the communicating rather than having the communication come from above. He also identified it was confusing that the truck station that is next to the Arden Hills Training Center and the training center staff have different testing methods.

Karin thank AFSCME for the feedback and said that now that things are up and running, we could begin looking at some of the adjustments that make sense.

Lia brought up there was a bar chart that was shared on MPR and it showed Mn DOT with vaccinations down at 60% when other agencies had much higher vaccination percentages.

Karin said Mn DOT is open to ideas on how to increase the vaccination percentage.

Lia shared that they had a member that had a chance to talk to someone with medical knowledge about the vaccine and because they were able to have their questions answered, it helped.

Darren asked if there is a roll out date for going back to the office? Some other companies have said come and get your personal stuff because you aren't coming back to the office.

Nancy responded that we had a return to office plan starting July 6which included a mix of employees who could perform better at work and those that preferred to be back in office. Agencies were told by MMB to  pause the return to office due to the Delta variant. Agencies have been told to pause until after January 6, 2022. The timeline and dates for return to office are TBD. The numbers in Minnesota are not looking better, so we are still paused right now.

Scuffy asks if there has been discussion about a mandated vaccine.

Karin responded she has not heard anything in HR discussion with MMB.

Scuffy wants to go on the record now that if that is brought up, AFSCME wants to be made aware as soon as possible.

Darren said that Gov Waltz made a comment that mandated vaccinations were not an option. Darren did not know specifics but offered to follow up.

Nancy said she also has not heard anything about a vaccine mandate.

Scuffy said thank you, AFSCME just wants to make sure that they know about it as soon as possible. From a member standpoint he believes it would not be a good idea and there would be a lot more than just two people out.

Nancy wants to be clear that even with just two employees that is two too many, we want to have all employees at work and getting paid.

Darren found info and forwarded a snip and said it is a good read and worthwhile:

[9:55 AM] Darren (DOT): At issue is a section of state law, Minnesota 12.39, titled "Refusal of Treatment" that came out  of  a revision of emergency powers laws following the 9/11 terror attacks. Even during a peacetime state of emergency, "individuals have a fundamental right to refuse medical treatment, testing, physical or mental examination, vaccination, participation in experimental procedures and protocols, collection of specimens, and preventative treatment programs." Sec. 12.39 MN Statutes


Rachael moves on to next topic - the TSS review committee. That process was put on hold last contract. The Review committee is every other month, and they hear third step grievance process. Rachael shared there were hiccups and inefficiencies in the process. She indicated Mn DOT wants to make sure that when forms are submitted the supporting documents are all there, and that the forms are signed and dated. When documents are not all provided, there were significant delays before the grievances could be heard. on the first meeting of the TSS Review Committee is November 3, 2021. Rachael indicated that Eric could send list of AFSCME members who will be part of the TSS Review Committee to Deb, Steffi, or Rachael.

Scuffy asked about the other 8-9 agenda items that AFSCME submitted.

Rachael agreed that a few additional topics that were submitted, and we sent an email back asking for more info on a few things but did not get clarification back.

Scuffy asked if this is a different process than before.

Rachael responded that this was clarified at a previous meeting.

Scuffy brought up meeting minutes and where to locate them. The link was shared in the chat of the Teams meeting.

Scuffy also brought up some items that he felt were not discussed. For example, sprayer license, we are writing this into PDs now. Why are we writing this in at the TG level when it is TSS? Consistently writing PDs across the state and how it is different across the state. These are things that we need to discuss.

Rachael replied that this was part of the request for additional information, if there were specific PDs to talk about.

Scuffy replied that as everyone is very busy, what is the need to provide all the information just to get it on the agenda. I've been in meetings in the past where we have discussions about the agenda items.

Deb shared that part of the reason we want more info in advance is to know if we need to make sure others are here in the meeting to discuss. Deb suggested maybe a phone call would be helpful instead of just sending multiple emails back and forth.

Scuffy agreed that would be a great idea.

Scuffy suggested that January can be a fresh start.

Rachael suggested we can discuss offline and maybe have a small group meeting to discuss.

Scuffy agreed that was a great idea. AFSCME will be making the group smaller for the next meeting, and their team will be notified after this meeting.

Jay shared that maintenance engineers are meeting and dusting off the contingency plan from last year. We had hoped that COVID-19 would be past, but it is not. We will be starting with the contingency plan and working from it.

Nancy shared that we did send out the email again asking for Mn DOT CDL drivers that would be interested in being the backup for the snow and ice season.

Louis requested to touch base with Rachael after this meeting.

Rachael thanked everyone for the meeting today. I know we have some action items to work on. Let us know if something comes up before the next meeting.

Scuffy thanked everyone for the good discussion today. See you in January hopefully everyone is happy and healthy.

Next Meeting

  • Date: January 27, 2022 10:00am-12:00pm


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