Contract negotiations are anti-labor

On June 26, the Sun Journal published a guest column by John McGough regarding the contract negotiations between the state of Maine and workers who are represented by the Maine State Employees Association. Several of his points were laughable at best and totally misleading.

Yes, the MSEA did offer a status quo on the contract; raise freeze and merit pay freeze included. They did not and have not requested raises of any kind as they are aware of the financial situation the state is in.

Mr. McGough is concerned that the negotiations are costing taxpayers money, but he fails to mention the lawyer from Manhattan who was hired at $300 per hour (plus expenses) to come to Maine to help negotiate the contract. Apparently there are no good lawyers in Maine who could do the same job for less. Not to mention that the lawyer in question works for a major firm that specializes in union-busting tactics.

He states that the proposed changes would not prevent state employees from doing their jobs safely. Does that mean that eliminating cut-proof gloves for prison guards would improve safety while searching prisoners and their cells for knives, needles or other weapons?

He spoke of savings to be gained by stopping the phone subsidy for 1,800 state workers. How many of those people are on call 24/7, or their position mandates them having a phone? How many members of the public would use their personal phones for work purposes and not expect any kind of reimbursement?

The question of fair share (non-union members having to pay a small amount to the MSEA) was mentioned as being part of the negotiations. Now I'm confused, as that issue is being addressed under LD 309 (written with help from that high priced lawyer). The bill, which addresses the exact same issue, was tabled and set to be brought up again in January. So why is it even on the table? Perhaps Gov. Paul LePage now knows that many Republicans will not support the effort,  knowing now that it is nothing more than a union-busting tactic.

McGough also made a point of comparing the wage differences of many people. Going by his theory, if I work for the state, then I should expect to be poorly paid with little or no benefits because that is how many in the private sector are treated. Rather than bring the state employees down, would it not be better that we all demanded that we bring ourselves up? Or is making a good wage with benefits somehow un-American or anti-business and therefore not good for Maine?

This past legislative session has been extremely anti-labor and the contract negotiations are but a continuation.

Joseph Mailey, Auburn

Member, Local 17, Sheet Metal Workers' International Association

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



Bob Wright's picture

McGough is a puppet. He has

McGough is a puppet. He has no original thoughts of his own. Find out who is pulling this guys string. The employees of South Portland thought this guy was useless. He had no clue in the HR dept. They thought he was a waste of money, acomplishing nothing in his short stint as HR director.

Thomas Maher's picture

Compromise, the employees have done that.

In the private sector real purchasing power has gone up, slowly but it has gone up over the last decade. In real dollars when you include the furlough days, the rape of the pension plan, a pension plan that state employees paid for in advance, the pay freezes, the benefit cuts, over and over, State employees are making less in real dollars than they were even five years ago.
Isn't taking a pay cut a compromise? Isn't taking benefit cuts a compromise? Isn't giving up the money you need to live when you can no longer work a compromise?
The right claims that without Unions the worker can negotiate for themselves. That is a little hard to do when the starting position is NO RAISES and benefit cuts.

I am a state employee, I work for the citizens of Maine and hate me, laugh at me for low pay during the 1990's, hate my Union, I will do far more work, far better work for you than a profit driven Cianbro, or profit driven prisons that are next on the agenda. I work for you and you will get your monies worth whether you respect me or not because I take pride in the work I do.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Joe, reality has to come into

Joe, reality has to come into the picture at some point, and both sides of the issue have to do some bending. Each side takes a stance, a line in the sand, so to speak, and then they negotiate from there. Everyone has the right to make good wages with great benefits, however, in this economy it's hard to do. Believe it or not, businesses, including governments, are having it tough. You can't keep digging into the same pockets over and over again because sooner or later they become empty. BTW, I think unions are a good thing to a point, but over the years, many have gone from helping workers make descent wages to helping workers put their employers out of business and thereby killing their own jobs in the process. Again, it's about balance.

RONALD RIML's picture

Businesses are having it rough

Because other businesses decided to outsource materials and manufacturing.

Now they're crying because they weren't 'policing' themselves as unions do with other unions.

It's businesses - not unions - that have put other businesses out of business. That's the corporate culture.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...