October 3, 2023
Keep up pressure to close pay gap
By Dean Staffieri
Throughout our Executive Branch worksites, scores of state workers are speaking out and demanding the State do what should have been done over a decade ago: Close the state employee pay gap!
Workers have been picketing statewide and momentum is on our side, from Augusta to Lewiston to Bangor to Wilton to Hancock to Popham Beach and Sebago Lake state parks to Winthrop to Freeport to Topsham to Rockland to Solon and on.
We’re demanding an end to the pay gap, as documented in the 2020 State of Maine Market Study Report, because state workers on average are underpaid 15% compared to their public and private sector counterparts in Maine and New England. For scores of classifications it’s even worse — accountants are underpaid by 20 to 33%; chemists, 24%; civil engineers, 20 to 25%; and mechanics, 31%.
Over 2,100 state positions are vacant — that’s nearly one out of six state jobs. These vacancies are a direct result of low pay and impossible workloads for state workers. The pay gap is making it extremely difficult for workers to do their jobs and make ends meet.
Over 400 state workers told their stories in letters to Maine DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa last month, and everyone spoke from the heart. One child protective services caseworker wrote, “Caseworkers make great sacrifices every day to serve our community and unfortunately we are often overlooked and feel taken advantage of. I urge you to please consider the inflation and the rising costs of living and close the pay gap. If we can’t afford to take care of our own families, how can we possibly be expected to serve others.”
Our Negotiations Team in the Executive Branch negotiations has heard all of you loud and clear. As we proceed to mediation with the Mills administration on new contracts, we’re more determined than ever to secure contracts that do what we’ve been demanding for years: Close the pay gap!
OUR ANNUAL MEETING
We’re looking forward to our Annual Meeting on Nov. 3-4 at the Augusta Civic Center. Elected delegates will set our course for 2024 and beyond by voting on the proposed budget, union elections and resolutions. Be sure to participate in the upcoming area caucuses to make your voice heard.
STATEWIDE QUESTIONS ON NOV. 7 BALLOT
On Sept. 22, the MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors voted to endorse four questions on the Nov. 7, 2023, statewide ballot: Please join me in voting:
- YES on 2 to prohibit campaign spending by foreign governments on state ballot questions;
- YES on 4: to require car manufacturers to release diagnostic info to local mechanics; this would help our members in Fleet Services do their jobs;
- YES on 5 to let workers in the Maine Department of Secretary of State have 100 business days, as opposed to 100 straight days, to verify signatures on referenda petitions;
- YES on 6 to require the Maine Constitution is printed in its entirety, not in abridged format.
For more info on all the statewide ballot questions, go to this official website.