July 30, 2013

MSEA members overwhelmingly approve 2-year deal

Contract includes 2 small pay hikes, trims some benefits

STAFF REPORT

Members of Maine's primary state employees union approved a new contract today, ending a more than two-year period of working without one.

Members of the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989 Service Employees International Union overwhelmingly supported ratifying the new contract for executive branch employees in the vote, tallied today, according to Tom Farkas, spokesman for the union.

Earlier this month, union representatives and officials from Gov. Paul LePage's administration agreed to the contract, which includes two wage increases in the next year, pending approval by members.

The contract is in effect from July 1 of this year to June 30, 2015, according to Farkas.

It includes two 1 percent wage increases for state workers taking effect in September and July 2014.

Those eligible will also receive a merit increase their anniversary date before June 30, 2014, according to a message sent today to union members by Ginette Rivard, president of the union.

In the message, Rivard thanked members for participating in demonstrations efforts in support of the union and for contacting their legislators to pass the state budget.

"Together, these actions helped us secure our new contracts," she wrote in the message.

The LePage administration earlier touted the contract's elimination of what it called wasteful perks: namely, an allowance for land-line telephone service that some state workers received, as well as state-paid leave time for those attending union conventions and a reduction in the number of days it would pay union leaders to attend board meetings.

The union had filed four complaints with the Maine Labor Relations Board against the LePage administration over the bargaining process, including allegations that it wasn't bargaining in good faith.

The union agreed to drop the three active complaints after the contract was ratified, according to Tim Belcher, lead counsel for the Maine State Employees Association.

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