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State Workers Deserve Dignity & Respect

Andy O’Brien
11 Feb, 2021
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  • New Report: State Employees Paid 15% Less Than Rest of New England
  • "This is for our Patients & Community" - Maine Med Nurses on why they are Organizing
  • Governor & Senate Leaders Blast Maine Med Executives 
  • Workers Testify on Bill to Guarantee Workers Pay out of Vacation Pay
  • Labor Reading Group to Read Jane McAlevey's “A Collective Bargain"
  • Upcoming Winter Labor Institute Events!

Maine State Workers Underpaid by 15 percent Compared to the Rest of New England, New Report Shows 

Workers in Maine State Government earn about 85 percent of what their public and private sector counterparts throughout New England are paid for comparable work, according to a new pay study report the Mills administration released to the Maine Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.  

“This latest pay study report confirms what a similar pay study found back in January of 2009: The State of Maine substantially underpays state workers compared to what workers earn in similar jobs throughout New England,” said Dean Staffieri, president of the Maine Service Employees Association (MSEA-SEIU Local 1989). “There’s only one way to address this inequity: Pay state workers what their counterparts earn. It’s past time for state workers to be treated with dignity and respect.” 

The State of Maine Market Study Report shows wages of Maine State Government workers are 13.8 percent lower compared to Massachusetts, 6.3 percent lower compared to New Hampshire, 10.7 percent lower compared to Rhode Island and 2.6 percent lower compared to Vermont. 

Representatives of the Mills administration and MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 worked together on the report to identify 100 benchmark State of Maine job classifications to compare with similar public and private sector jobs throughout New England. “The State’s base pay is consistently below the market average at the pay range minimum, midpoint, and maximum," the report states.

“This is for our patients and community" — Maine Med Nurse Speaks Out on Why They are Organizing

Nurses at Maine Medical Center in Portland are scheduled to vote on unionizing starting at the end of March in a mail in ballot NLRB election. This week, the Maine Beacon published a powerful story about the organizing effort featuring Jackie Fournier, a 20-year Maine Med nurse in the mothers and babies unit. Fournier said that the driving force behind the unionization campaign is the nurses’ desire to have a greater voice in management decisions that impact patient care. 

“This is for our patients and community. The nurses who are here day in and day out have a much better understanding of what is needed to run things safely and efficiently and to be able to provide the best patient care,” she said. “Our ability to advocate for our patients will be greatly strengthened by having a collective voice as a union.”

Please share this story with your friends and family on social media!

Governor & Senate Leaders Blast Maine Med for Vaccinating Out-of-State Union Busters Before Elderly Mainers

[caption align="center"]This week, Maine Medical Center was forced to admit it violated state guidelines for administering the Covid-19 vaccine when it vaccinated out-of-state anti-union consultants hired to stop the nurses from forming a union. In separate statements, Governor Janet Mills and Maine Senate leaders - President Troy Jackson, Senate Majority leader Eloise Vitelli and Asst. Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry -  torched Maine Med executives for prioritizing their union busting propaganda campaign over the health of elderly Mainers and people with high risk medical conditions. [/caption]

“Vaccinating out-of-state contractors who came here to disrupt a union-organizing effort was an insult to the hardworking nurses trying to assert their rights,” said the Governor.

“Every out-of-state consultant and lawyer that MaineHealth flew in as part of their intimidation campaign got the vaccine instead of someone’s grandparent or loved one,” said Senate President Jackson. “It’s concerning that MaineHealth would put their own anti-union agenda, and their own bottom line, ahead of the health and well-being of Maine people.”

Union Members Testify on Bill to Require Employers to Pay Earned Vacation Pay at end of employment

[caption caption="Members of the Rockland Professional Firefighters (IAFF Local 1584.)" align="center"][/caption]


Union members testified Wednesday in strong support of Rep. Amy Roeder’s (D-Bangor & AFT 4593 member) bill that would require employers to pay employees all of their earned vacation pay when they leave employment. LD 225 would fix a Maine law that allows employers to decide whether workers are paid out earned vacation pay when they change jobs, move, retire or end employment. 


Union members testified Wednesday in strong support of Rep. Amy Roeder’s (D-Bangor & AFT 4593 member) bill that would require employers to pay employees all of their earned vacation pay when they leave employment. LD 225 would fix a Maine law that allows employers to decide whether workers are paid out earned vacation pay when they change jobs, move, retire or end employment. 

When companies were forced to lay off tens of thousands of Mainers due to the Covid-19 pandemic last spring, the Maine AFL-CIO received numerous complaints from laid off workers that they had been cheated out of their earned vacation pay that they worked hard to save up.

“I was shocked to learn that my employer has a 'use it or lose it’ policy when it comes to our earned vacation pay. I couldn’t believe we could earn something like vacation time and then have it taken away without compensation,” said Rockland firefighter Carl Anderson of IAFF Local 1584. “We are currently negotiating a better deal, but most workers are not as fortunate as we are to be part of a union. Whether you are fighting fires, looking after our elderly or bagging groceries, all workers deserve to be paid what they’ve earned when they leave employment.”  


Labor Reading Group to Read “A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing and the Fight for Democracy"

Our Labor Reading Group will hold a follow-up discussion on Feb 25 to the conversation started with Bill Fletcher in January about the ideas in his booklet that accompanied the Race & Labor program. You are welcome to join even if you were unable to attend in January. The next reading, beginning in March, will be Jane McAlevey’s “A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing and the Fight for Democracy” 

Click here for more information.

Upcoming Winter Labor Institute Events

Wednesday, Feb. 17, Noon - 12:50pm — President’s Lunch & Learn: Briefing on the PRO Act. Bring your lunch and join Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney and Bill Samuel from the national AFL-CIO to learn about the PRO Act, legislation in Congress, and how it will support unions, workers, and organizing. Register for the PRO Act briefing and Q&A here!

Thursday, February 18, 6:30pm - 8:30pm — Organizing & Winning in the Time of COVID: How People First Portland Organized & Won Pro Worker Reforms. Learn how Portland activists passed referenda that advanced the conditions of workers, tenants, and unions in the city. Click here to register and receive the Zoom link!

Coming soon: “When Paper Maker Fought Wall Street Greed.” Join labor historian and University of Southern Maine economist Mike Hillard for a discussion of his new book “Shredding Paper,” which covers how Wall Street greed ravaged an industry that once made Maine the “Detroit of paper” and how workers organized and fought back. Location and time to be announced! 

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