November 4, 2023
Members of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 elect Mark Brunton as their next president
Congratulations to MSEA-SEIU President-elect Mark Brunton, at left, and MSEA-SEIU Vice President-elect Kevin Russell, at right, shown with MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri!
The election comes as more and more Maine workers gain a voice at work through MSEA and as state workers represented by the union are in mediation with the Mills administration for new contracts
Elected delegates of the Maine Service Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, on November 4 elected Mark Brunton as their next president effective Jan. 1, 2024. Mark will succeed MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri, who is termed out after four years.
“Today’s service sector workers need unions. They need collective bargaining. They need representation when they are called into the boss’s office,” Mark Brunton said. “And many of them want collective bargaining. They believe in the power of unions to equalize the power imbalance in the workplace between management and labor. I’m honored to lead this organization where it must go. Together, we will write another chapter in the long history of the labor movement in Maine.”
Mark Brunton works as a comprehensive health planner for the Office of Aging and Disability Services within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. In the union, Mark currently serves as an Area 2 Director and on the Maine Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees.
Delegates also elected Kevin Russell as the union’s next vice president, also effective Jan. 1, 2024. Kevin, who works as an eligibility specialist for Maine DHHS, succeeds Cal Paquet as vice president.
“Congratulations to Mark and Kevin on their election,” MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri said. “I had the pleasure of working closely with both of them over the years and am thrilled they are stepping up to lead the union. I look forward to working with them in the transition.”
The elections were held Nov. 4 during the union’s 80th annual meeting at the Augusta Civic Center. At the annual meeting, the delegates also elected members to the MSEA-SEIU Board of Directors and other union committees.
The union’s 80th annual meeting comes as state workers in the Executive Branch of Maine State Government are in their fifth month of working without a contract. A 2020 study documented that state workers are underpaid by 15%, on average, compared to their public and private sector counterparts throughout Maine and New England. For many classifications such as chemists and civil engineers, the pay gap is even worse. Members of MSEA’s union negotiating team in the Executive Branch are pushing, in mediation with the Mills administration, to close the state employee pay gap and address the understaffing that is widespread throughout all departments of Maine State Government. Over 2,100 state positions – that’s nearly one in six state jobs – are currently vacant due to low pay.
In other MSEA bargaining units this year, MSEA negotiating teams have secured new contracts with pay raises that will help recruit and retain workers, and address understaffing. These units include workers in the City of Lewiston, Lewiston Schools, City of Auburn, Maine Community College System adjunct faculty, the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, York County Government, and Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.
The election of a new MSEA president also comes as more and more workers in Maine and nationwide are gaining a voice at work by forming unions to advocate for improved wages and healthier and safer working conditions. Workers at several Maine employers this year have formed unions with MSEA. They include the medical interpreters at MaineHealth, the domestic violence resource workers at Through These Doors, plus the sexual assault response workers at Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine and at Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.
The Maine Service Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, represents over 13,000 Maine workers and retired workers.