The Maine State Employees Association (MSEA), which represents employees of the State of Maine, will resume negotiations with the State this week in an attempt to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The last CBA expired about 18 months ago but remains in effect until the MSEA and the State reach a new agreement.
During the past 18 months, the LePage administration tried to eliminate “fair share” requirements which prevent State workers from free riding on the benefits the union attains for them by deciding not to pay union dues. Eliminating the “fair share” requirements probably would have led to a reduction in the MSEA’s power to advocate for its members. The LePage administration failed to gain sufficient support among lawmakers for its desire to eliminate “fair share” and the State is reportedly no longer pressing this issue during negotiations.
Among other things, as part of these negotiations, the state is seeking to eliminate pay for union members when they go to their annual conventions or attend monthly meetings. It also wants to reduce the amount of interest paid to employees who are reclassified into higher paying jobs. From the MSEA’s perspective, Chris Quint, the MSEA’s executive director, points out that “we’re now going on four years where state employees have not had a pay raise.” He has also stated that workers who perform tasks beyond their classifications should receive additional pay for their extra effort.