AUGUSTA — Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he's sending layoff notices to 58 state employees in case of another federal government shutdown.
The Republican governor says that while shutdown is unlikely, the union contract requires his office to "adhere to a rigid timeline" for notifying employees about layoffs. He says notices will start going out Monday afternoon.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan congressional budget agreement last week. The Senate is poised to send the measure to President Barack Obama this week.
LePage says he opposed the shutdown in October and remains opposed to the possibility of another.
“But the MSEA contract is not flexible. It does not allow for late notice of layoff, even in circumstances like these, where there is a strong possibility that the notice will not be needed," LePage wrote in a prepared statement. "The union contract does not take into account government shutdowns or any other unforeseen factors.”
The Maine State Employees Association criticized LePage's announcement of the notices. "Under our union contracts, Gov. LePage is required to give State of Maine workers at least 10 work days notice if he is going to lay them off, so there’s no need whatsoever for him to have done anything yet," wrote Ginette Rivard, president of the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, in a news statement. "