Governor, state employees reach deal

AUGUSTA — After more than two years of bargaining, a contract agreement has been reached between Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine State Employees Association.

Some items are out but raises are in.

If members of MSEA ratify the agreement, the new contract will be effective through June 30, 2015.

For two years, the two sides have argued over what the governor had deemed excessive and unnecessary costs supported by the previous union contract.

“At times, negotiations were contentious, but we were finally able to convince MSEA that there were parts of the expired contract that had to go or be changed,” LePage said in a written statement released Wednesday night.

In the news release, LePage said he was able to eliminate unnecessary phone allowances and state-paid leave for union members to attend their annual convention.

Additionally, the contract will reduce by half the interest rate on reclassifications and tighten up reclassification procedures, eliminate excessive payments for call-out, provide an option for protecting employees’ social security numbers and establish better job security for those who are opposed to paying service fees to the union.

The contract will provide for raises and merit increases for some. LePage said the deal also includes job security provisions for workers who don’t want to pay union fees.

“I appreciate the hard work by all state employees serving the people of Maine,” Gov. LePage said. "We have been successful in making state government more transparent, more efficient and more focused on customer service for both citizens and businesses."

Union general counsel Tim Belcher said the governor agreed to a contract similar to one the MSEA had previously proposed. The proposal, he said, includes raises he described as modest.

"We're happy to have it over with and we're happy with the results," Belcher said. "We had made proposals that were along the lines of this agreement. We're glad (LePage) feels he got something out of it, too."

Belcher said he expects several membership meetings around the state where the agreement will be explained. The plan could bring an end to a long period of negotiations that were at times contentious, indeed.

In the spring, MSEA officials said they had been told to prepare for a government shutdown, a claim LePage hotly denied.

In May, LePage said he had no plans to shut down state government and accused Maine’s state employees union of “lying” and “manufacturing a crisis” by claiming otherwise.

That followed a brouhaha over claims that the governor pressured unemployment claim hearing officers to rule more often in favor of employees. LePage denied those allegations, as well, calling them “outrageous.”

A year earlier, LePage was quoted as calling the middle management of the state "as corrupt as you can be" at a Newport town hall meeting. The MSEA quickly took exception to the comment.

The MSEA represents more than 15,000 public- and private-sector workers.

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Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I would love to take a survey...............

LePage is just letting off a little steam, he's getting things done. He's a "tax payer watchdog" I love that one.
I would like to know, how many of these Paul LePage groupies, have family or friends living in other states. How many of these people, kissing the very ground he walks upon, have to listen to the constant tiraids of laughter laced comments coming from out of state friends and relatives, regarding our illustrious leader. I have heard everything from, "is this guy for real? to "When is he playing Boston so I can catch his act?
This Governor is turning this State into something I never expected when I moved here.
This State already has a rich history of "Maine Humor" the greats like Joe Perham, Marshal Dodge, Tim Sample, those guys are great at the art of using humor to make us laugh and still truly respect the history of Maine. To laugh at ourselves sort of. It highlights the better side of Maine.
Paul LePage, is a prime example of "do not try this at home" when it comes to humor. What he's doing is making us and the whole State look backward and idiotic. Folks wonder why we even let him out with out a leash, its embarrassing. I say it's time we act, if we can't impeach the fool, why not impose a citizens initiative, and place a gag order on the Governor. At least he couldn't continue to make us look like fools. If we can' get rid of him, at least shut him up. I for one am sick of his bullying and his political games, enough is enough........

I'm sure the majority of

I'm sure the majority of those 15,000 will not be supporting the Governor when he runs for relection in 2014. Previous Governors would have accomendated those workers more, trying to get their vote. Governor Lepage doesn't always do what is politically popular or political correct. , he's trying to bring back some effeciency in how state government is run. Being a watch dog over our tax dollars is a good thing , thats why when he blows off a little steam once in awhile,it doesn't bother me.

Bob Woodbury's picture

Blowing off a little steam...

Translation - making Maine the laughing stock of every other state in the country.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

They are easily mislead and twisted for the bulldogs BS

He and others adore the uncouth bulldog, but if it was a Dem or Ind. they would be all up in arms that the embarrassment would need to be removed from office....That is how delusional, untruthful and naive they really are. They cannot be honest with themselves with a guy with his nature and condone it as welcomed! Makes it totally irresponsible and not in touch with reality, for at least sane people see thru the smoke screen they project and logical people see LePage as a unfit elected Gov.

Bob Woodbury's picture

I have concluded...

...the TPers practice tunnel vision politics - my way or the highway.

I think your confused. Its

I think your confused. Its Obama who practices such politics. The Tea Party evolved over Obamacare which 66% of Americans in latest poll does not want.

Do you do alot of traveling

Do you do alot of traveling Bob, or is that just liberal spin?

Bob Woodbury's picture

I take it...

...you don't read any out of state newspapers.

no, I confess I read no out

no, I confess I read no out of state newspapers.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Never fails with his

Using the liberal spin remark as constant comments, when he has nothing!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

If he was

Anything like Ray Arsenault, he dropped out of High School too, and never received a GED....

your a sick man, get some

your a sick man, get some help Jerry

Bob Woodbury's picture

And who...

...is making the diagnosis?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

SiImply

a HS dropout, with no degree... 8>)

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Oops. I sent before I checked my own spelling....

Simply, my booboo

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