Employees giving the state a one-two punch

Minnesota State Roundup

Published November 1, 2001  | November 2001 issue

Minnesota is facing both short- and long-term labor issues with its employees. In the near view, nearly 30,000 state union workers—57 percent of the state-employed—went on strike starting on Oct. 1 and lasting for two weeks. The two labor unions involved settled for a two-year contract that, publicly, none of the sides appeared satisfied with.

Possibly more ominous, the state government is facing a potentially serious long-term labor shortage because it estimates that as many as one-third of its employees will retire in the next 10 years; for midlevel managers, whose average age is 55, the number is closer to one-half. The state's employee relations department cited two big reasons for the wave of possible retirements: The average starting age is a relatively old 36, and many retire early from stressful jobs like state trooper, prison guard and other law enforcement positions.

Ronald A. Wirtz