Bargaining News


June 27, 2024

Priority: Elect pro-worker legislators, Governor

By Mark Brunton
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

As we enter the summer season in Vacationland, I am looking back at the first six months of my first term as president. I also am looking forward to enjoyable weather and summer in Maine. Our union has accomplished so much in 2024, yet there is so much more we can do to win worker power and grow our union.

As labor unions rack up considerable victories across the nation, it may seem that we have the wind at our backs and smooth sailing ahead. Alas, we must overcome 50 years of anti-union legislation and anti-worker judicial rulings just to get to the starting line. The system is slanted against working people in favor of wealthy corporations and bad bosses who manipulate the rules to divide and conquer us.

For example, workers in the Executive Branch of Maine State Government do not have the right to binding arbitration or the right to strike when contract negotiations fail. Management takes full advantage of that power imbalance to suppress wages and shift the cost of benefits onto workers while defying legislative mandates and our contracts. They waste taxpayer dollars by overpaying contractors to do the work rather than pay competitive wages and hire more union workers. At the same time, they turn a blind eye to the staffing crisis and the impossible workload burdens resulting from it.

You may be asking, “What shall we do, Mr. President?” Regretfully, there are no quick and easy answers to that question. The solution requires consistent organizing and effective action to change the landscape, so we can fight the battles ahead on leveled ground. Electing pro-labor legislators and governors is a vital component of effective action.

If we want to win binding arbitration or the right to strike, we must elect pro-labor majorities in the House and Senate in 2024, and send a pro-labor governor to the Blaine House in 2026. We rely on the members of our PASER committee to identify pro-labor legislators and candidates. If you are an MSEA-SEIU member and you would like to be more involved in helping us elect more pro-union candidates in the General Election on Nov. 5, sign up for our 2024 Election volunteer program. You also can contact MSEA-SEIU Leader Member Political and Legislative Coordinator Jonathan Brown at 207-624-0627 for more info on electing pro-union candidates.

I hope you find our Legislative Scorecard for the 131st Maine Legislature helpful in planning your votes on Election Day, Nov. 5. I urge you to contact your legislators to thank them for their pro-labor votes, or ask them to explain their votes against labor legislation. Participating in the democratic process and holding elected leaders accountable is patriotic, and essential to the American experience of the working class.

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