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Negotiations between state and public employee's union to start on Wednesday

Posted at 10:18 PM, Sep 13, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb (KMTV) — Nebraska is in a unique position compared to most other state’s across the country.

Record low unemployment means we have plenty of jobs but not enough people to work them all, and that shortage is starting to cause real problems for state employees.

“It makes life tougher. It's a lot more weight on your shoulders because we don’t have employees, and then we are working double time,” said Jay Jensen with the Nebraska Department Of Transportation.

Jensen is a DOT employee who has seen firsthand what consequences the statewide staffing shortage has brought.

He says burnout at the DOT is common and without more employees, the department will struggle to provide the services that Nebraskans have come to rely on.

“When they are talking about putting up signs saying your road isn’t going to be plowed for the next 3 days. How are you gonna go to the grocery store? How are you gonna go to work? It's all of those things,” said Jensen.

Jensen believes poor pay and benefits are exacerbating the shortage but things could soon be looking up for state employees.

“We are advocating for wage increases for state employees wages rose on average 1.7% a year, that won’t cut it when inflation is 9%,” said Justin Hubly, Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees.

Hubly represents the 8,000 state workers that make up the Nebraska Association of Public Employees.

This week the Union will begin its negotiations with the state, and representatives are looking for better pay and benefits that have become common in private businesses.

“Paid parental leave is a big issue for us, for our millennial and our Gen Z employees and members,” said Hubly.

It still remains to be seen what the new deal will be for state employees but for Jensen, anything less than a raise that matches the cost of living increases won’t be enough.

“We all live under inflation. We all live under (the) cost of living. With CPI being at 5.9%, I'd like to see him more than match that with our wages,” said Jensen.

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