A chorus of “Good mornings!” and “Welcome backs!” and “Tims!” and “Bobs!” greeted Minnesota Department of Transportation employees at every entrance of their office building this morning as they and thousands of other state employees trickled back to work.
MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel’s staff welcomed the returning employees with doughnuts and coffee, and a mood of happy relief pervaded the lobbies and halls of the Transportation building, just down the street from Minnesota’s state Capitol.
Effective at 6 a.m., 22,000 state workers were given the go-ahead to return to their jobs for the first time since the July 1 shutdown.
“It’s been a long three weeks of wondering what’s going to happen and not being able to do anything or go anywhere,” said Carol Wiese, a MnDOT staffer.
Wiese, who cracks a sharp laugh when she lays out her title – transportation program specialist three – was one of more than 4,700 MnDOT employees able to return to work after Minnesota’s historic shutdown. Now she’s ready to get back to business and begin sifting through the 400 emails clogging her inbox.
Nick Thompson and Scott Peterson, directors in the commissioner’s staff, were positioned at the building entrance facing the Capitol’s south lawn. They came back to work a few days ago and beamed as they greeted their returning colleagues.
“It feels good,” Peterson said. “We all just want to get back to work.”
But despite the obvious relief, some are nervous about what the budget deal worked out between Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP legislative leaders will mean for the future.
“I think there’s a little bit of apprehension because of the deal,” Peterson said. “What will happen two years from now?”
“I think there are some other emotions that I’m sure they don’t want to share,” he said.