| Business forum: Veterans armed with job protection
Minnesotans join the rest of the nation in honoring military veterans The traditional Veterans Day fell on Sunday, Nov 11, commemorating the end of World War I 94 years ago But many official observances are Monday, including ceremonial events at various cemeteries, Fort Snelling and other sites around the country
Minnesota honors those who have served in the military in the workplace, too, including legislation adopted earlier this year that expands job opportunities for veterans and their spouses
Laws aimed at giving veterans more job-related rights date to the late 19th century in Minnesota, including a measure that provides greater job protection in the public sector than non-veterans receive Other long-standing laws give veterans and their spouses advantages in hiring and for some promotions within the public sector
The most recent addition to Minnesota laws favoring veterans was passed by the Legislature this year and signed by Gov Mark Dayton The measure extends the rights of veterans from the public sector to private enterprise Under the law, private-sector employers are authorized, but not obligated, to grant "preference" to hiring and promoting veterans This also extends to spouses of military veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related injury and to the surviving spouses of deceased veterans
The law does not specify what type of "preference" may be granted, how it may be bestowed, or any other details Rather, it simply permits employers to give such preferences to veterans and, if disabled or deceased, to their spouses
Pre-existing law in Minnesota prohibits discrimination in employment against individuals because of their military status The new law, conversely, allows them to be given preferential treatment and, to dispel any doubt, expressly states that granting such favoritism does not constitute a violation of any state or local anti-discrimination laws
That exemption, however, does not assure avoidance of litigation A non-veteran might still find some ways to assert discrimination because of preferential treatment given to veterans
Further, veterans themselves may raise various charges that they are being treated less favorably than other veterans with different or longer military service records
These disputes may be avoided if company management adopts written policies for according preference to veterans in hiring or promotion Failure to do so could leave firms vulnerable to charges of impropriety in positioning veterans more favorably than non-veterans or even in preferring some veterans over others
The private-sector preference permitted by the new Minnesota law complements other favorable considerations that veterans receive in the state One law allows veterans and their spouses preferential treatment in hiring in the public sector If competitive examinations are given for hiring, veterans and their spouses are required to be given 5 additional points on a 100-point scale, while disabled veterans can obtain up to 10 points On first-time promotional exams, disabled veterans are given 5 points
And preferential treatment does not exist only in hiring The venerable Veterans' Preference Act, which has been on the state's books since 1907, entitles those who performed military service for more than six months and have been honorably discharged the right to challenge any dismissal -- and even some significant demotions -- in most public-sector jobs by requiring the employer to prove that the action is taken against them because of "incompetency or misconduct" This is a high standard that gives veterans much more protection than their colleagues, who generally work on an at-will basis and can be demoted, disciplined or even discharged without proof of poor performance or any misbehavior
The Veterans' Preference law primarily covers employees of county, municipal and other local branches of government, with some exceptions for management-level jobs The law does not extend to employees of the state or the University of Minnesota
Still, the Veterans' Preference measure is a potent one Not only does it limit disciplinary action, especially termination of veterans, but it also allows them to remain on the payroll during the time that they are contesting any discharge
Another law, also only applicable to public-sector employees, grants veterans a leave of absence for up to 15 days a year for military service
These Minnesota measures exist side by side with some workplace protection laws at the federal level The most notable is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, commonly known as USEERA, which prohibits retaliation against an individual because of past, present or prospective military service It is most often invoked when those in the military are denied their jobs, or given inferior ones, upon return from the service Some may view these preferential measures as being unfair to those who are not veterans Those who have worn the uniform may feel that they are entitled to even more advantages in the workplace But they are definitely armed with an arsenal of laws that can protect their rights in the workplace
Woman's Veterans Initiative Shows Major Muscle with Habitat for Humanity Build
Posted: 2015-11-25 09:37 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Women Veterans Initiative (WVI), a group orientated toward networking Minnesota women military members and veterans brought 16 service(wo)men from all services, ages and backgrounds together, November 12, to assist in a Habitat for Humanity build. Eleven of the 16 women are current or former Minnesota National Guardsmen.
"We started celebrating Veterans Day this way in 2008 with Habitat for Humanity and enjoy coming back each year to build," said Trista Matascastillo, program officer for Veterans Voices and chairman for the WVI. "We learn new skills, build our own confidence and make new friends. There are 27,000-plus women vets in Minnesota and so often we hear that women veterans feel isolated and alone and having events like this is just another way to bring us out and together."
The group started in the morning with a brief on the tasks for the day and quickly got to work, going above and beyond by organizing the work-site and making sure there was a high attention to detail.
Empowering Girls and Influencing the Next Generation
Posted: 2015-11-17 10:51 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Air National Guard and the Soroptimist International of the Twin Cities partnered together to present the documentary film 'Girl Rising' at the 133rd Airlift Wing on Saturday, Nov 7 2015.
The event featured a C-130 tour for any of the attendees, which included girls as young as nine. Following the tour, the documentary film 'Girl Rising' was featured and ended with a panel discussion. Topics included overcoming obstacles, mentors and people who have inspired them along the way.
"I think events like this are essential in opening our doors to the community and raising awareness about important issues not only local, but around the world - often these are places many of our wing members have deployed to," said Master Sgt. Theresa Mensinger, Diversity and Inclusion Senior Non-commissioned officer.
Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing has new leader
Posted: 2015-11-16 07:47 AM
DULUTH, Minn. - With the handing-off of the 148th Fighter Wing's flag on Saturday, Col. Jon Safstrom has become the new wing commander.
The Duluth native assumed the leadership role from Col. Frank Stokes, who is leaving Duluth after leading the 148th for more than six years to become chief of current operations at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.
During Saturday's Change of Command Ceremony at the Minnesota Air National Guard base in Duluth, Stokes passed the flag of the 148th "Bulldogs" to Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, who then passed the flag to Safstrom, symbolizing the accepting of the command.
133AW and Best Buy Corporate join together to support Operation Gratitude
Posted: 2015-11-12 12:51 PM
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing and employees from Best Buy Corporate joined forces to support Operation Gratitude at the Best Buy corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.
Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-based corporation, funded entirely by private donations. Every year, Operation Gratitude sends more than 150,000 individually-addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas.
On Friday, more than 30 members from the 133rd Airlift Wing worked side-by-side with employees of Best Buy Corporate to pack bags filled with snacks, small electronics and other items to be shipped to deployed military members overseas. The efforts paid off and the group packed nearly 1,800 bags in under an hour.