Solidarity with State Employees, WGME Workers Prepare for Negotiations & more

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Mills Administration Still Refusing to End Pay Gap for State Employees
  • WGME Workers Soon to Enter Contract Negotiations
  • Anti-Privatization Measure Signed Into Law
  • More Pro-Labor Laws Advance in Augusta
  • Labor Reading Group to Read “Shredding Paper” 
  • Painters District Council 35 Members Ratify New Contract, Avert Strike
  • Dave Sullivan Appointed Machinists' Eastern Territory Chief of Staff 

MILLS ADMINISTRATION STILL REFUSING TO END PAY GAP FOR STATE EMPLOYEES

Maine Service Employees Association members demonstrate at the State House in Augusta for a fair contract.

Despite some progress being made in contract negotiations, Governor Janet Mills still refuses to end the pay gap and raise wages to keep up with the cost of living for Maine state executive branch employees.

“We were hopeful we would make progress this week, as on July 2 senior officials from the Mills administration gave us assurances our wage demands were ‘reasonable’ and stated they expected we would see progress this week,” the Maine Service Employees Association (MSEA-SEIU 1989) bargaining team wrote in a letter to members. “Yet the administration’s most recent proposal is still far from keeping up with the cost of living or addressing the pay gap.” 

Currently, these employees earn on average 15 percent less than their peers throughout New England, even after adjusting for regional pay differences, according to a recent independent market study. However, the Mills administration latest contract proposal would actually cause executive branch employees to fall further behind their peers in Maine and throughout New England while also falling further behind in the cost of living.

When the state fails to pay their employees a fair wage, it depresses wages for all Maine workers. Please take a moment to click the link and send a message to the Governorasking her to end the pay gap for state employees.

WGME Workers Soon to Enter Contract Negotiations

Members of IBEW Local 1837 are expecting to soon be in negotiations with Sinclair Broadcast Group for a a new successor contract with WGME, the CBS Television Network affiliate in Portland. WGME is owned by the predominantly non-union Sinclair Broadcast Group, a publicly traded company that owns, operates or provides services to 186 television stations in 87 broadcasting markets. 

"These negotiations are always tough and we’re bracing ourselves for a difficult contract campaign," said Matt Beck, organizer and business representative for IBEW 1837. "We hope the company will sit down with us and wrap up a fair contract before our current one expires."

IBEW 1837 represents more than 40 WGME professionals, including operating technicians, news editors, assignment editors, photographers, engineers, producers and directors who create and produce a variety of news and public service programs, commercials and station promotional announcements both for WGME-TV 13 and the local Fox Television Network affiliate in Portland, WPFO-TV 23. SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federal of Television and Radio Artists, represents the television reporters and news anchors at WGME.

Anti-Privatization Bill Signed Into Law

Governor Janet Mills has signed LD 875, an important anti-privatization measure into law. This bill requires privatization of state service proposals to go through a good-governance process that requires it to demonstrate that it would actually save money, provide appropriate services and not undermine workers. 

"This law is widely recognized as the gold standard in the country for protecting taxpayers from faulty privatization schemes," said Jim Durkin of AFSCME Council 93.

LD 875 is modeled after a 1993 Massachusetts law that has saved the state hundreds of millions of dollarsaccording to a 2018 study by Columbia University’s Elliott Sclar and Michael Snidal. The study's authors called the law "a guardrail against corrupt and irrational outsourcing" that occurred during Republican Governor Bill Weld's administration.

"Had the Pacheco Law not been in effect, and the MBTA privatization of bus routes in 1997 proceeded, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could have lost well over $200 million as of 2018," they wrote.

More Pro-Labor Laws Advance in Augusta

Several important labor bills have either been signed into law or are awaiting action by the Legislature and/or Governor Mills.

LD 1564: Fix Unemployment. This bill makes a number of important improvements to the state unemployment insurance system. It received a unanimous 13-0 vote in the Appropriations Committee and has been enacted in the House and Senate. We expect the Governor to sign it.

LD 677: Binding Arbitration. This bill will improve collective bargaining for public sector workers. The deck is stacked against employees in the public sector because when a contract fight goes to arbitration the employer is currently allowed to impose a contract and ignore an arbitration decision on economic issues. LD 677 has been enacted in the House and Senate and awaits action from Governor Mills.

LD 1231: Labor standards on renewable energy projects. This bill will create good quality clean energy jobs and advance equity. For large renewable energy projects (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro, etc) over 2MW that receive over $50,000 in state funding, the bill ensures decent wages and benefits, equity in hiring and training, and increases the likelihood that project labor agreements will be used to improve wages and labor standards on these projects. LD 1231 has been enacted in the House and initially passed the Senate 17-16, but still needs one final enactment vote in the Senate. Unfortunately, anti-union contractors are lobbying hard against this bill so please contact your state senators and ask them to support LD 1231!

LD 198: Support for Central Labor Councils. This bill allows Central Labor Councils to receive a property tax exemption, as Chambers of Commerce already do. The Eastern Maine Labor Council in Brewer is the only such building in the state of Maine and performs outstanding services to workers and the greater Bangor community. This bill was voted 8-1 to be funded by the Appropriations Committee, has been enacted in both bodies and awaits action from Governor Mills.

LD 221: The State Budget. The supplemental state budget was signed into law on July 1. Highlights of the budget include the state finally funding Revenue Sharing at 5 percent, which will help municipal workers negotiate better wages and working conditions. It also funds K-12 education at 55 percent, which has been a decades long fight for educators and the labor movement to achieve in Maine. The supplemental budget also provides funding for the Permanent Commission on Racial, Tribal and Indigenous Populations, so it can continue to address racial inequity in state policy changes. State workers who serve the public will benefit from significant funding to improve state buildings and worksites, which have become very unsafe in the past decade. 

LD 1656 : PLAs on Affordable Housing. If passed into law, this bill invests in building affordable housing with project labor agreements in place for construction that will ensure good quality jobs are created and projects get built on time and under budget. LD 1656 passed the House and Senate and now we need members of the Legislature’s budget committee to fund the bill and get it over the finish line. Please click here to ask members of the Appropriations Committee to fund LD 1656!

Labor Reading Group to Read “Shredding Paper” 

This month the Labor Reading Group begins “Shredding Paper: The Rise and Fall of Maine’s Mighty Paper Industry” by Michael Hillard. A succinct review by a reader on the Goodreads website describes the book this way, “Enjoyed this more than I expected. Great look at an industry and a labor movement vital to Maine’s past and future.” 

If you would like to learn about the history of Maine’s paper industry and talk about it from a worker/labor perspective with other union members, plan to join us. The reading group meets via Zoom on the 4th Thursday of each month from 5:30-6:30pm. For more information visit our webpage.

Painters District Council 35 Members Ratify New Contract, Avert Strike

Congratulations to International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 35 members who voted last week to accept the terms of a new four-year contract on July 1st after voting to authorize a strike. District Council 35 includes members in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont.

"We finally came to an agreement that all sides can work with," said Roger Brunelle, political director of IUPAT District Council 35. "It's within the parameters of the cost of living, which  is what we were hoping for and it strengthens contract language."

Dave Sullivan Appointed Machinists' Eastern Territory Chief of Staff 

Dave Sullivan

Congratulations to brother Dave Sullivan, who has just been appointed Chief of Staff of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) in the Eastern Territory. Sullivan, a 34-year IAMAW member, initially joined the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA) when he began working as a shipbuilder at Bath Iron Works in 1986. 

After IUMSWA merged with IAMAW in 1988, Sullivan served as a Shop Steward, Local Lodge Officer and on many committees at IAMAW Local S6 before joining the District 4 staff as a Business Representative representing Region 1 in New England. He later became the Assistant Directing Business Representative of District 4 before becoming Directing Business Representative in April 2014. In recent years he served as Grand Lodge Representative in IAMAW's Eastern Territory. Dave is dogged advocate for his members and we know he will continue to be a strong leader for the Machinists' Union!