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Minnesota labor union leaders say the clock is ticking for state employees at the Capitol.

Their two-year employee contracts were ratified by the Minnesota House last year but still await passage in the Senate. Without action before the session adjourns, raises and benefits for roughly 50,000 state employees will be clawed back.

"Minnesota as an employer right now is a little bit lacking, and they need to make it right," said Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. "These contracts are not extravagant."

The contracts, which include a 2.5% annual raise, went into interim effect and are already accounted for in the state budget. They cover employees ranging from zoologists and corrections employees to epidemiologists, many who worked throughout the pandemic.

The Legislature has always ratified the contracts, but union representatives said they've been waiting for more than a year for the Senate to take action.

"We're starting to feel the heat. I hope they are too," said Megan Dayton, president of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE). "That seems a terrible thing to do to anybody who got us through the pandemic."

The regular session must adjourn on May 23. Gov. Tim Walz has said he will not call lawmakers back for a special session to continue work.