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Maine state employees to receive pay raise, additional benefits under new contract

The State House in Augusta at dusk on November 9, 2022.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
/
Maine Public
The State House in Augusta at dusk on Nov. 9, 2022.

The Mills administration has reached a contract agreement with the state employees' union that will provide workers with a 9% pay hike next year along with other benefits.

The previous contract, covering more than 9,000 executive branch employees, expired in July. But in voting this month, a majority of members of the Maine Service Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, supported a two-year contract that will increase workers' pay by 6% next month and then by another 3% in July.

Workers will also receive a one-time, $800 payment and the state will extend paid parental leave from four to six weeks, among other changes. Additionally, the contract will allow workers at the top "step" of their classification's pay scale to advance to a new, higher step, allowing them to qualify for an additional 4% raise. It also increases vacation time and longevity pay starting at five years of service.

MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 President Dean Staffieri called the contract "a good start and a beginning to getting a bit more money" for state employees after years of high inflation. But Staffieri noted that the Mills administration also committed to additional negotiations based on the findings of a study looking at ways to close a 15% pay gap between the state workforce and the private sector.

"This 9% which will get into folks' pockets fairly quickly is really to get a little bit in their pockets to help out," Staffieri said. "But that 15% that we have been talking about with the pay gap is what we are really looking to address when we jump back into negotiations in January."

Staffieri said he hopes those additional negotiations will help address vacancies within the executive branch by attracting more applicants. Those bargaining negotiations are distinct and separate from the contract negotiations that just ended and will be based on a "classification and compensation report" due to the Legislature by the end of January.

“We applaud MSEA members’ ratification of these new contracts, which demonstrates our commitment to providing competitive wages and benefits for State of Maine employees,” Kirsten Figueroa, commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said in a statement. “We are now on track to increase wages by at least 23 percent since taking office while significantly improving benefits.”