‘Now it’s time to invest in them’: Nebraska state employee union heads into contract negotiations

NAPE Union representing state workers gather before contract negotiations begin.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A union representing more than 8,000 Nebraska state employees from all different fields will begin its new contract for negotiations Wednesday. Looking for higher wages and better benefits.

The union covers many state agencies from transportation, corrections, Veterans Affairs, and healthcare workers.

The process is just getting started and those involved in the process told 10/11 Now these employees will be bringing several key issues to the table such as increased pay, access to remote work options, paid parental leave, and bilingual pay.

The Nebraska Association of Public Employees or NAPE said from 2011 to 2020 they saw wage increases that went up by only 1%. In this next round of negotiations, they are looking to change that.

“We had an entire night shift in South Omaha, down there on Gomez, leave because of the pay were getting,” said Jay Jensen an NDOT Senior Highway Maintenance Worker and NAPE member.

He said this is just one example of workers quitting, taking jobs in other areas of the public sector, and making about $10 more an hour.

Jensen and others met on Centennial Mall to rally ahead of contract negotiations slated to start Wednesday.

“They’re excited,” said Justin Hubly with NAPE. “This is their opportunity to have their voice heard in the workplace.”

NAPE said the hope is to attract and retain more employees in jobs that have higher turnover rates.

“Today there’s about 30 DMV offices closed to the public because we don’t have examiners,” Hubly said. “The NDOT is critically short-staffed with maintenance to plow snow this winter.”

Members said they hope they can negotiate with the State of Nebraska on these issues and agree on a two-year contract.

“Now it’s time to invest in them and the public services that Nebraskans deserve,” Hubly said.

10/11 Now reached out to the State Department of Administrative services for a comment going into the negotiations but no one was available for comment Tuesday.