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Strong member input drives best contract in years for Nebraska employees

Members of the NAPE negotiating team are pictured at the Nebraska State Capitol complex. (Photo credit: Nebraska Association of Public Employees)
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By Ezra Kane-Salafia ·

Thanks to strong member participation, state workers represented by Nebraska Association of Public Employees (NAPE) /AFSCME Local 61 have overwhelmingly ratified a contract that fixes compensation problems long ignored by the state.

The new contract, ratified last month, will be in effect from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023. It ushers in a new step pay plan, increases the contract’s minimum pay, and offers other improvements.

For more than 15 years, Nebraska’s hardworking public employees have not had a path to move from the minimum to the maximum salaries in their classifications. The new contract fixes that with a 40-step plan, with 1% pay raises at each step, with most workers moving three or four steps during the term of the contract.

The contract also delivered wage-increasing reclassifications for more than 1,600 workers and raised the minimum wage in the contract to $12/hour – up from the current $9.61 – immediately lifting the wages of more than 600 employees. Additional victories include a 50% increase to on-call pay and no increases in medical costs for public employees.

NAPE members voted 97.8% in favor of the new contract.

“Members attending ratification meetings either online or in-person overwhelmingly see the benefits of the new contract and the positive direction this is taking,” said NAPE/AFSCME Local 61 Executive Director Justin Hubly.

“Members held 33 town hall meetings across Nebraska before the pandemic, and conducted a large scale survey of everyone working under the contract so that we were able to bring the needs and experiences of members directly to the state and lay out exactly what needed to be fixed,” he added.

The participation of members at every level was instrumental in ensuring the new compensation structures for Nebraska workers.

“When the state’s team dismissed our demands, we were able to bring out stories and data from those surveys that showed exactly what members needed,” said Hubly.

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