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February 29, 2024

Union for Maine state workers files charges of labor law violations over pay-gap study

The largest labor union representing Maine government workers filed charges this week that the state has failed to bargain in good faith.

The Maine Service Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, asked the Maine Labor Relations Board to order the administration of Gov. Janet Mills to follow agreements around a state-commissioned compensation and classification study of state workers.

The local organization, part of the Service Employees International Union, represents over 13,000 Maine workers.

The union says it's trying to close what it is calling the state employee pay gap — the difference between what Maine state government workers earn compared to people doing similar work in the public and private sectors throughout Maine and New England.

A 2020 study showed that state workers are underpaid, on average, by 15%, the union says. The pay gap is far worse for many state classifications such as civil engineers, accountants, mechanics and correctional workers.

The Maine Legislature had passed a law requiring the administration to complete the study by Jan. 31, but that never happened.

Mills' office did not immediately respond to questions about the matter.

“In our complaint, we’re asking the Maine Labor Relations Board to order the Mills administration to follow state law and our contracts when it comes to completing and implementing the pay and classification study,” said Mark Brunton, president of the MSEA-SEIU Local 1989.

“The administration has been dragging its feet for years on this study. Instead of doing its job, the administration is defying the Legislature’s mandate and ignoring its contractual obligations.”

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