Gov. Paul LePage has pledged to close the gap between spending and revenue. State employees are in the spotlight to be controlled to help close that gap.
The argument is that state employees are too numerous, too well paid and too well cared for in their retirement.
What they have that is different from many workers in Maine are contracts that specify working conditions, pay and benefits. For very good reasons, Maine has been a union state for generations.
The right to collective bargaining creates a level working field. There are two sides at the table. If there is a perception that state employees have somehow unfairly benefited from that relationship, it is false. Whatever state employees have in the way of benefits, they have gotten through bargaining with the state negotiating teams.
If the governor thinks that state employees need to be reduced in number, or have smaller paychecks and fewer benefits, then the bargaining table is the place to achieve that end.
To throw out the right to collective bargaining, as has been proposed, is an extreme measure when a more effective measure is at hand, and that is to negotiate the differences at the table.
If there is to be a "spectacle," such as that seen in Wisconsin, it will be so because the governor and his supporters want it that way.
The resolutions are not short-term. Bipartisan, long-term commitment and planning are needed, not politics du jour or finger-pointing.
I await Augusta's answer.
Tim Schmidt, Pownal