Minnesota Governor puts flexibility and efficiency above red tape during crisis
Flexibility is needed during a crisis. On March 17, 2020 Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-07 “Providing for State Workforce Needs During the COVID-19 Peacetime” which removes red tape, and allows his office to better respond to the crisis in addition to providing additional benefits to state employees.
The significant part of the Order is the prioritization of flexibility to better serve the people of his state.
In the Order the governor acknowledged “The Minnesota Constitution provides that the purpose of government is for the security, benefit and protection of the people.”
Minnesota laws give the governor the ability to “alter or adjust the working hours, workdays and work week of, and annual and sick leave provisions and payroll laws regarding all state employees in the executive branch, as necessary to minimize the impact of the emergency, conforming the alterations or adjustments to existing state laws, rules, and collective bargaining agreements to the extent practicable.” It allows the executive branch to “transfer the direction, personnel, or functions of state agencies to perform or facilitate response and recovery programs.” The order did say that when circumstances allow the state will work with labor unions, but it puts the priority on providing services.
Why is this needed?
Many work rules and union collective bargaining agreements make transferring employees, adjusting schedules, or prioritizing different types of work difficult without opening up the agreement and having drawn out negotiations. In a time of crisis these delays could affect the health and safety of citizens.
Accordingly, the governor concluded “that to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans and minimize the impact of the peacetime emergency on government operations, state agencies require the flexibility to hire staff, schedule, assign, and reassign employees without adherence to existing limitations in collective bargaining agreements, memoranda of understanding, compensation plans, statutes, administrative rules, administrative procedures, and policies that present barriers to the needs of state agencies to efficiently and effectively mobilize and deploy their workforce during this peacetime emergency.”
Gov. Waltz should be applauded for putting Minnesotans first and streamlining state employees work rules to maximize services.