The History of
Minnesota Public Employer Labor Relations Association
Minnesota Public Employer Labor Relations Association (MPELRA) was formed in 1980 to provide a voice for public sector management in response to efforts to change the Minnesota Public Employment Labor Relations Act, adopted in 1972. The organization expanded its focus to include information sharing, networking and educational programs.
A steering committee formed MPELRA. Its members were:
Peter Bergstrom General Counsel, MN Association of Counties
David Bergsven Personnel and Labor Relations Director, MN Dept of Education
Jack Davis Personnel and Labor Relations Director, MN Dept of Transportation
David Dombrowski Manager of Labor & Legislative Affairs, Metropolitan Airports Commission
Tom Dudley Personnel Director, Hennepin County
Jim Geissner City Administrator, City of St Peter
Andrea Kircher Special Assistant to the Attorney General, State of Minnesota
Elmer Malinen City Administrator, City of St Cloud
Ken Robbins Director of Business Services, Metropolitan Waste Control Commission
Earl Schlitz Employee Relations Manager, City of Duluth
Cy Smythe Consultant, Labor Relations Associates
Terry Sullivan General Counsel, City of St Paul
Rollie Toenges Labor Relations Director, Hennepin County
Fred Wagner Personnel Director, City of Rochester
W. A. Wettergren Executive Secretary, MN School Boards Association
In 1980, MPELRA received a grant of $5,600 from the International Personnel Management Advisory Council. This grant was used to lay the foundation for MPELRA.
MPELRA’s original mission was the following:
To provide a means for developing and maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and excellence in public sector labor relations.
- To provide education and training for Minnesota public sector labor relations professionals.
To provide current information on negotiations, mediation, arbitration and legislation.
To foster cooperation among members, including sponsoring meetings, workshops and seminars.
To establish a common understanding of governmental positions being developed for presentation to the State Legislature.
Interim officers and a board of directors were installed. The organization filed Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. The interim and ultimately charter officers were David Dombrowski, President; Fred Wagner, Vice President; Earl Schlitz, Second Vice President; Ken Huber, Secretary; and David Bergsven, Treasurer. The original Board of Directors included: Jim Geissner, Rollie Toenges, Elmer Malilnen and Ken Robbins. Terry Sullivan was appointed General Counsel.
A charter conference was held on November 14, 1980. Ninety-two members attended the MPELRA charter meeting and conference. Officers and board members were elected and the By-Laws were ratified. In 1981 MPELRA held its second conference in St Cloud. On October 16, 1981 an agreement between NPELRA and MPELRA granted chapter status to MPELRA. MPELRA members were granted automatic membership in NPELRA.
The membership grew from 52 original members in 1980, to 77 in 1981 and to 84 in 1982. As of January 2009, there are over 176 members.
Past Presidents of MPELRA
1981 David Dombrowski
1982 Fred Wagner
1983 David Bergsven
1984 Ken Huber
1985 Sue Richards
1986 Mike Hulette
1987 Morgan Pascoe
1988 Joyce Twistol
1989 David Werts
1990 David Griffin
1991 Denise Legato
1992 Brian Brown
1993 Jan Peterson
1994 Rise’ Kohlmeyer
1995 Dave Clark
1996 John Erickson
1997 Bill Hunt
1998 Linda Skallman
1999 Jim Laumeyer
2000 Dale Ignatius
2001 Melanie Ault
2002 Irene Koski
2003 Jeanette Sobania
2004 Sherrie Le
2005 Angela Nalezny
2006 Angela Nalezny
2007 Timothy Comstock
2008 Timothy Comstock
2009 Dave Mueller
Seven MPELRA members have served on the NPELRA Board of Directors: Jim Geissner (also NPELRA President for 1983-84), Betty Thornburg, Peter Obermeyer, Nancy Arneson-McClure, Fred Wagner, David Dombrowski, Sherrie Le and Melanie Ault. Robert Bruce was an NPELRA Charter member. Roger Dahl, originally from Minnesota, was the NPELRA Executive Director for many years and Secretary-Treasurer for the first NPELRA Board.
Four MPELRA members have been awarded the NPELRA Award of Excellence: Rollie Toenges, Jim Geissner, Irene Koski and Jeanette Sobania. Jim Geissner also received the President's Award. MPELRA members and organizations who have won the NPELRA Pacesetter Award: Jim McKane, Melanie Ault and Mn/DOT’s Human Resources Division.
The first MPELRA Award of Excellence in Labor Relations was given to Paul Larson in February, 2009.